1253 Tasting Notes

drank Nilgiri Highland Gold by Ketlee.in
1253 tasting notes

2022 harvest? Winter.

This dry leaf smells very similar to the Winter Frost Green. It is spicier, more herbaceous, but just as floral with rosebud-stem-and-leaf notes, leatherleaf, baby’s breath, peonies. Woody dark green.

Warmed leaf gives a very clear expression of malt with cherry-wintergreen undertone. Or maybe it’s raisin-eucalyptus or currant-cardamom. Or maybe it’s wheat bran flakes and not malted barley. But it’s a very crisp and clear scent, not a lowdown, concentrated malt. Saffron.

Honey-caramel aroma. Sweet, viscous, oily. The essence of malt I guess is what I’d call the taste. In fact, I’d describe it as a gentler Ruby 18, or the reflection of Ruby 18 in a mountain stream. Mild astringency, mild overall but does have a tendency toward bitterness. Short aftertaste like most Nilgiri teas. It’s fruity but I can’t pin it down.

In the wet leaf, I get damp forest undergrowth and something like peach and lavender. Spent leaf, once again, makes an excellent cold brew where I notice that peach coming to the forefront in taste.

The level of oxidization presents this black tea as less like a green or a Darjeeling or oolong or whatever than the Nilgiri Handmade black I had earlier this week. Whatever this little mystery is, I’m happy to explore some more.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Caramel, Cardamom, Cherry, Eucalyptus, Flowers, Forest Floor, Honey, Lavender, Malt, Peach, Peony, Plant Stems, Raisins, Red Currant, Rose, Saffron, Spring Water, Sweet, Viscous, Wet Wood, Wheat, Wintergreen

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 30 sec 4 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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drank Winter Frost Green by Ketlee.in
1253 tasting notes

2022 harvest

Having now tried this tea 2 years in a row, I can see the similarities in profile. This year’s harvest is a treat!

The dry leaf smells exactly like walking into the air-conditioned florist’s shop from the stifling summer humidity. Intense and fresh, I’m reminded of the simple combination of a rose, leatherleaf and baby’s breath.

The warmed leaf switches gears while still bringing the florist shop with it. Fresh coconut meat, pandan leaf, vanilla, rose and leaf, so fresh. Fresh sweet green cabbage, tangy something, a savory edge like pickles but soft and not piquant.

Tea itself is full of pectin, viscous and oily with an appreciated finishing astringency recalling unripe fruits rather than the typical grassiness of green teas. Coconut water and sweet pineapple-mango taste, some kind of custardy aftertaste. Fruity and clean. Very uniques tongue-numbing bitter sensation. I smell the bottom of the cup and it smells like sugary fruit candy. The next few steeps are the same, and I realize the taste is pure jackfruit! It makes me giggle.

I smell the wet leaf, too, and it is strange. Like a white bean paste mixed with untempered hing and curry leaf. Or is it something else entirely? Pungent and full of umami, the wet leaf aroma does not express in the tea cup at all. Spent leaf made a delicious cold brew.

This uplifting session was brewed in a tall Taiwan-made black clay teapot I had been using for Japanese black teas. I’m looking forward to playing more with this little treasure of green tea from southern India.

Flavors: Almond, Astringent, Beans, Bitter, Cabbage, Candy, Coconut, Curry Leaf, Custard, Fruity, Mango, Oily, Pastries, Pineapple, Plant Stems, Rose, Spices, Spring Water, Sugar, Sweet, Thick, Tropical, Tropical Fruit, Vanilla, Viscous

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 6 OZ / 190 ML

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Very valerian! Faces were made. The empty mug w/ teabag plastered to the inside was exited from bedroom to kitchen before falling asleep. Valerian+licorice root is not the smell I want to greet me upon waking. I don’t think this did the job last night. Very restless.

Flavors: Caraway, Earthy, Herbaceous, Licorice Root, Mint, Musty, Sweet, Tangy

Mastress Alita

Valerian works very well for me, but ooooof, why it gotta stink SO BAD? Has to be a very magical blend to hide that aroma…


Yeah, I know I’ve had a blend that defied the Law of Valerian but don’t remember which one it was. Usually smells so dank all one can do is CHUG-IT.

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Not drinking for supposed digestive benefit.

A balanced blend that showcases the three herbal components: peppermint, spearmint and lemon balm.

I did some cursory reading of journal papers. Bacillus coagulans, the bacteria added to this herbal blend, has been shown to withstand higher food and beverage processing temperatures than other probiotic bacteria.

Boiling water does decrease bacterial vitality.

Freshly boiled water is what Traditional Medicinals recommends for steeping, with their usual “covered for 10-15 minutes” instructions. If I were to drink this herbal tea for probiotic effects, I’d probably brew it lower, like 175F.


I do like their straight-up peppermint…this sounds tasty, too.


Yeah, not bad at all :)

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drank Tulsi Sleep by Organic India
1253 tasting notes

A nice cooling blend of herbs and spices to chill with some Krishna and Vana tulsi. It’s a different kind of wind-down herbal tea that, along with the tulsi, consists of cardamom, peppermint, dwarf morning glory, ashwagandha and gotu kola along with the typical bedtime chamomile. It feels different and I like the feeling quite a bit.

But there’s also stevia.

And it is much more noticeable to me in this blend than in Organic India’s other blends.

How unfortunate.

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drank Throat Comfort by Yogi Tea
1253 tasting notes

The overwhelming taste is licorice root-fennel seed. Very sweet. Also taste cherry bark. All the other typical chai spices are mostly in the background but not hidden. Licorice root definitely gives some body. The tea seems to get thicker at the bottom of the cup, when I notice the mouthfeel and coating nature of slippery elm.

This is actually not terrible tasting but I’d rather go for Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat. They’re both functional herbal teas that will provide a little relief in the moment.

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drank Nilgiri Handmade Black by Ketlee.in
1253 tasting notes

2022 harvest

No string of words that flows through my fingertips into this keyboard can capture the complexity and simplicity of being that some teas have the ability to reveal. I sip this one and it tells me, “Slow down, you wild child.”

This tea is mild enough to be the first nourishment of the day but its unassuming and ethereal nature might soon overtake and dissolve you if you’re sensitive. The desire to sit and meditate overwhelmed me. There is no option, only the way.

This tea feels very Indian. A dry leaf aroma of saffron and red cherries with wintergreen. A feeling of mountain spring water, cooling herbal medicine, chickpea papadum studded with cumin seed, ocean mist suspended at high altitude, pink rosebuds with dark green glossy leaf, yeasty fruitbread. I spoke with my mom yesterday about how my own tea seedlings are doing and my plans for them. I described to her the idea of terroir but in terms of wine. This tea expresses its terroir in a way that is so subtly gripping. It makes me excited to get all my babies in the ground hopefully next year and see how the Sonoma climate, geology and hydrology will eventually express in these plants.

Thanks for providing an experience, Ketlee. Another wonderful harvest that paints a picture of the ever-shifting nature of earthly processes. I’d like to share this experience with a friend.

[last year 90, this year amazing]

Gongfu brewed in a glass gaiwan. I can see just how green these leaves are. It steeps out like a green tea, too, in regards to astringency. Cold-brewed spent leaf produced tasty beverage. I will try western brewing to see how the leaf character unfolds.

Flavors: Alkaline, Apricot, Astringent, Banana, Beans, Bread Dough, Cake, Camphor, Cherry, Cumin, Eucalyptus, Floral, Fruity, Grapes, Guava, Herbaceous, Herbs, Lime, Malt, Mango, Medicinal, Menthol, Ocean Air, Passion Fruit, Pomegranate, Rose, Saffron, Salty, Savory, Soft, Spices, Spicy, Strawberry, Wintergreen, Yeast, Yeasty

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

A beautiful note. Thank you for allowing us to enter in to your tea experience!

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Citronella candle.

Blergh. Lemony herbs steeped as a beverage will never be my liquid sunshine.

Hopefully the pitcher of cold-brew I made for Kiki goes over well with her. If not, like this cup of hot I made, the pitcher will go to watering the garden.


That made me smile—I wanted to lounge outside around sunset and couldn’t find my “salmonella” candle anywhere.

TeaEarleGreyHot I was going to suggest spiking it with some Limoncello. But then I figured, hell throw the tea away and just drink the Limoncello!

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drank Bedtime by Yogi
1253 tasting notes

Revolting. I like medicinal tastes but not artificial. There is no balance here. Not to mention it’s sickeningly sweet with the combination of licorice root and stevia. Points for valerian working.

Yogi is the worst.

Flavors: Artificial, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Floral, Licorice Root, Medicinal, Menthol, Perfume, Spearmint, Stevia, Sweet, Tangerine


I think I can count on one pinky finger the Yogi teas I’ve liked over the years, and I can’t even remember what that one was.


Agree with gmathis – there’s maybe one or two Yogi teas that I can drink on occasion, but I certainly wouldn’t call them favorites. James loves Yogi teas though so we have probably 5-10 different varieties.

Martin Bednář

Can someone even point out a decent Yogi tea? I think not.


Found it. My not-unfavorable review of Yogi Mayan Cocoa Spice is (man, time flies!) 12 years old and I can’t find it currently for sale. So there you go.


I am re-trying my Yogi teas…and mostly tossing them on the compost heap! Their destiny was to make rich soil, not fill a tea cup lol.

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drank Super Slim by Triple Leaf Tea
1253 tasting notes

Dosing my bowels with senna tea is not the solution to the deadening of peristalsis due to opioid usage. How can people drink this stuff all willy-nilly. This is hardcore medicine even with only a 2-minute steep. Educate yourself.

(it works but feels like poison, like Smooth Move)


Oh goodness, I feel for you. Last time I had Smooth Move, it felt like my body was wringing itself out like a soggy towel. It was so miserable. That’s why I still have about 15 bags of Smooth Move left. I guess eventually I’ll just toss them since I know I won’t be putting myself through that misery again.

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If you’re an aspiring or current tea grower, let’s talk! I am slowly beginning a tea farm here in Northern California. Currently growing are young plants pulled from the ground and gifted to me after a visit to Fairhope Tea Plantation in Alabama. The parent plants are sinensis variety from a defunct Lipton research project. I’ve also started seeds from Camellia Forest Nursery in North Carolina. The types include Camellia taliensis, an assamica variety, and 3 sinensis varieties including “Small leaf” “Large leaf” and “Black Sea.” I also picked up 2 older plants from a a local nursery. They were grown from seed supposedly acquired from a tea farm in Washington. To learn how to process tea into different styles, I plan on traveling to China and Taiwan if/when COVID becomes a relative non-issue. I’m taking Mandarin classes to aid in this journey.

Tea became a hobby and my daily drink of choice some time late in the last decade. My introduction to loose leaf came, following a lone tin of some Tie Guan Yin oolong many years prior, in the form of dumpster-dived Wuyi oolong packets that somebody left upon moving out of an apartment building. From there, my palate expanded to teas from across China and the world. I used to focus more on taste and still harbor the habit, but after trying sheng pu’er, I tend to focus more on how a tea feels in my body. Does it complement my constitution? Does it change my mood or does it enhance my current mindstate? While I may not mention those effects in tea notes, it is what I value most.

Flavored teas are not a favorite but I do drink them intermittently. Drink a variety of teabags at work. Herbal teas/tisanes provide balance. Unfiltered tap water heathen (it’s good here).

In terms of who I am, you could consider me a jill of all trades. Specialty is not my strength, as can be seen in the spread of my tea notes.

One thing I will always love is riding a bicycle.


Sonoma County, California, USA

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