97 Tasting Notes


I have been a mess lately. Whenever the weather changes, I get sick. I try to avoid it but it always happens no matter what I do. Also, my hockey team is terrible and I can’t leave my house because they decided to tear up my street. All of this makes it worse. I decided to make myself something sort of decadent to make it better.

The first time I tried this one, it was all “Meh”. It was weak and not chocolaty. It tasted like watered down cocoa. Not good. But I overleafed this time in a big way. And I added some cocoa powder…Valrhona…and some cream. It was absolutely delicious. The chocolate and cinnamon were perfect. And the heavy cream gave it the cocoa feeling. Of course, I had it at night so I didn’t sleep well but still…perfection.

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec

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This is my first tea picked by my homemade randomizer. It was one of the ones I was hoping to squirrel but the randomizer picked it and I am a slave to the system. I also didn’t take detailed notes about each steep because I am lazy.

I absolutely loved this tea based completely on the superficial. It’s adorable. It’s so tiny and pretty and the box is purple. The look of it made me happy. Brewed, it’s just magnificent. So sweet and creamy. There are times when I sip this tea and it’s just notes of caramelized dates with that smooth creaminess and it was just perfect. Pure perfection. This is one of the smoothest ripe pu’ers I have ever tried.

I don’t think this will be an everyday tea. Not because I don’t love it to bits and pieces but I want it to last. I am tempted in a big way to buy another one of these and a Red Rhyme.

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Terri HarpLady

I need to pull this one out, it’s been awhile since I drank it!


This is a good one! Had this myself a while back.


I’m a sucker for pretty tea boxes. Glad to hear the tea in it is good too.


Yep the tea is superb in this pretty little box. The have one called “Red Rhyme” that is superb also!

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I needed to drink something I knew I loved today. My tea experience last night (with Mango Diablo) was far from pleasant. So Gentleman’s shu it is. It was a beautiful experience of toffee, caramel and cream. I didn’t take notes because I am lazy…That’s been a trend lately. But I do think I have found my perfect brew method with this one. 15 seconds for the first 3 steeps, then increase by 10 seconds until you reach a minute, then after a minute increase by 30 seconds. It was perfect. I am upping my rating because I really love this tea more and more every time I drink it.

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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drank Mango Diablo by DAVIDsTEA
97 tasting notes

I don’t know what happened to this tea but oh dear tea gods did I not like it this time around. The green tea was bitter, the mango tasted like a fruit roll-up and the chili was AWOL. The last time I had it, it was utter perfection so I am not going to change my rating but not good, folks, not good.

175 °F / 79 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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My team is playing HOCKEY!!! That is enough to make this girl pretty darn joyful. My team’s new goalie is also fabulous (Thanks Vancouver!). I needed something more robust than a green to reflect the sport I am watching. So I picked up my trusty Phatty Cake—and I overleafed a bit…My cake is shrinking. Not so much a cake anymore but a frisbee. I decided to follow Bonnie’s advice and make it a latte. Oh my dear lord. It’s delicious. Phatty Cake already has some molasses notes but adding almond milk—didn’t have any coconut as Garret suggested—and a touch of raw sugar just brings it right out. Sweet, slightly smoky dark molasses. I’m drinking it hot right now but I think I may have it iced later.

P.S. My team won. Unusual.

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Have to love the start of hockey season. :))


I live for it. In a big bad way.

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I have been cleaning my house lately which is why I have been away from Steepster. My family has the propensity towards collecting randomness. Holiday items, curtains, tools and apparently tea sets. Squirreled away in a box of randomness was a tea set from Japan and a saki set. I am completely estimating but I think they are from the 40s or 50s because my Uncle was stationed in Japan around that time. It’s all gold and prettified. The tea set has a Foreign mark with a globe-like symbol—the saki set is a mystery because I can’t read Japanese…or anything but English. I have become completely obsessed with it. I had the brief thought of asking my aunts if they wanted it but I guess that’s impossible considering I am hoarding it like Gollum hoarded the One Ring.

Garret is officially my Tea Superhero. Like Batman only better. I have been on a serious green kick lately. Green oolongs, sheng pu’ers, green tea…all of it. But I had so little because that is usually not my schtick. Garret sent this one along with many other greenish teas in my last order. Happy dance!

This one started out very floral in a jasmine kind of way. Jasmine with a light honey sweetness. Surprisingly, I really loved it. The first steeps were dominated by floral notes but as the steep times got longer it veered more toward fruity notes…mainly peach. The honey stayed consistent with varying intensity.

I really liked this one quite a bit. It’s not my favorite green oolong. I think that is a tie between Alishan Oolong and Milk Oolong. But it’s pretty darn close. I’ll probably order some more of this and cold steep the last bit of this because I think it would be lovely iced.

175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 30 sec

Garret really is a superhero. I’ve been grooving on Mandala’s Valley Peak green lately.


+1 Claire.


It’s like Garret has some super special powers and…just knows. Cause I swear I have most of the tea he sent on my to buy list.

Valley Peak is on my list. It’s a never-ending list. I am currently sipping Torch Festival green and it’s so yummy.


OKAy, I officially wanna party with all three of ya’s! You should know that I am a huge fan of each of you, too! Truly. Inspiring me in so many ways. I am a grateful man. And I so appreciate how you are helping to grow our labor of love with your kind words, your sharing of our product, your reviews. I am humbled.

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I have had relatives visiting for the past couple of weeks which means I have not had the chance to drink much tea. They are strictly coffee people and since I am the only one who can make a decent (seriously excellent) pot of coffee, tea has kind of been in the background. I missed it and I really hope that my moment of off the wagon didn’t start up my addiction to coffee again.

I have been sipping though. I found time to bring out some Verdant teas that I haven’t had the chance to try yet or that I haven’t had in a while. The last time I had Laoshan Black Chocolate Genmaicha was I think around April and I loved it. Like a lot. It was so perfect. So roasty and chocolaty. This time, however, it was a bit too roasty and not chocolaty enough. Perhaps it’s because it’s a bit older. I still like it a lot but definitely not the love I had before. It’s still a reorder though because that first time was so resplendently awesome.

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I’ve been a bit absent from Steepster lately. I have a good excuse. I sprained my wrist and typing is a big ol’ pain. To make it even worse, I steam burned the same hand so now I have second degree burns and a sprained wrist. I’m not whining, I swear. The only thing that has kept me from being a big baby is tea. So, I guess, there’s that. My form of pain management is drinking copious amounts of tea.

Steep 1- 15 seconds
Kind of mellow. Sweet. A little bit smoky yet creamy. Very interesting in a completely non-aggressive kind of way.

Steep 2-30 seconds
It’s asserting itself a bit more. Still smoky and sweet but where the original Phatty Cake asserted itself in a smoky way, the Sequel is all about the creamyness.

Steep 3-45 seconds
It’s getting a bit nutty…literally. It’s reminiscent of Amaretto. Call me a bit insane but I may even prefer this to the original Phatty Cake.

Steep 4-1 minute
It’s a tiny bit woodsy but it’s kind of reminiscent of vanilla extract without the alcohol kick. It’s vanilla in that sort of woodsy way and not totally pastry-like or sweet.

Steep 5-1.30 seconds
Vanilla bean with a touch of figgy fruitiness. Winner! It’s light but it’s very flavorful.

I’ve been craving some iced tea lately so I decided to stop brewing this hot and try an overnight iced tea steep. Oh my dear tea gods. It was amazing. This is going to sound crazy but it’s like I took a Napoleon, mashed it up in a blender and drank it. It’s vanilla and custard and even a bit pastry-like. I wish I had made more than a glass worth of it.

I am not going to go so far as to say that I love this more than the original Phatty Cake but I love it for different reasons. Since hockey season is getting close, I am going to use a hockey comparison. The original Phatty Cake is the flashy forward. The guy who scores all the goals, gets all the credit and is all “Look at me!!! I’m so talented” but the Phatty Cake Sequel is the hard working third liner. The guy who does everything well but stays out of the way. He’s also the guy that scores the goals when the flashy forward is in one of his cold streaks—-or decides to retire to Russia…I’m bitter. I think on most occasions I’d prefer the more mellow Phatty Cake Sequel to be honest but I think the Sequel with gain some strength with age. Hopefully not too much because I like the gentler aspect of it.

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Awesome! Thanks for this grace….love the review :)


Welcome back !


My dear, I am so glad that you are enjoying this. Given that the steaming/pressing took place so recently, look for some big changes in complexity over the next few months. This was pressed on 4/25/2013… I’ve detected big changes already. I am SO HAPPY you like it already. Thanks for writing this review and providing me with whole new ways of looking at pu’er :)


“Thanks for writing this review and providing me with whole new ways of looking at pu’er :)”
Given Garret’s experience with Pu’er, I imagine he hasn’t given such a compliment to too many people! Way to go!

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drank Hepburn by Nina's Paris
97 tasting notes

It’s been a while, Steepster. I had one of those colds that never goes away and drinking tea had been mostly useless. But I am back now. I think. Unless that evil evil cold comes back.

I think this may be my favorite of the Nina’s Tea samples I have tried. Chocolate orange is one of my favorite combinations and this one was very good. I have had one other chocolate orange blend before (Three Friends from Butiki) and I am still trying to figure out which one I liked more.

The orange flavor of this tea was very nice. It was not at all artificial and worked well with the chocolate. It smelled and tasted like orange zest…and that’s really the only part of the orange that I like. The chocolate really didn’t show up until the end of the sip. It was a nice cocoa flavor. I really didn’t get very much cream flavor at all but I really didn’t miss it. The base was also pretty tasty. It had a nice kick of astringency that cut the sweetness nicely.

I tried not to compare Hepburn to Three Friends and failed. I preferred the orange flavor of this one and the chocolate in Three Friends. I also think the marshmallow showed up more in Three Friends than the cream did here. I do think I preferred the base of Three Friends more. It was smoother and had a chocolaty taste on its own.

Thanks to Laurent for the sample.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

Aaargh! Why do there have to be so many I want to try???

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drank Chocolate Rocket by DAVIDsTEA
97 tasting notes

Chocolate and raspberry is usually a safe combination for me but Chocolate Rocket just…didn’t work for me. I may be just in a bad mood…because I have tried this before and didn’t hate it.

It started out well. The dry tea smells nice. Strong on the chocolate with a nutty background. Raspberry is there too but it’s not the full on assault that it is when the tea is brewed. Brewed though this tea is a completely different story. The chocolate is okay. Taste a bit like those chocolate Lipsmackers from Bonnie Bell. That’s not so good. There is a nice nuttiness from the almonds and the mate. And also some nice roasty coffee like notes from the chicory. But then the raspberry…oh dear the raspberry. It just didn’t work for me. It was a combination of it was too strong and overpowered everything and that it also tasted like lipgloss.

Sometimes things just hit you the wrong way. Perhaps that’s the case with this one. I am going to try it iced to see if it improves—and to burn off the rest of my bag.

Update: Definitely better iced. The nutty and roasty notes come out more but the raspberry still. Still overpowering and still lipgloss.

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Book blogger. Hockey fan. Reformed coffee drinker. Newly minted tea addict. I grammar police myself and no one else. Pu’er lover.

My favorite type of tea is pu’er. I can see myself living in a house alone with just pu’er cakes, a electric tea kettle, my trusty pu’er pick from Mandala and a thermos. I prefer ripe pu’er but love raw pu’er as well. My current favorite is the Special Dark from Mandala Tea.

Black Tea-I also love all forms of black tea. Black tea is where I started and I still love the malty loveliness of a good black tea. My current favorite is Grandpa’s Anytime Tea from Butiki.

Green Tea-Green tea is pretty hit and miss with me. I have never really developed a liking towards it. I have been dying to explore green tea more. Especially matcha and genmaicha. My current favorite is Autumn Harvest Laoshan Green from Verdant Tea.

Herbals/Mate-It depends on what’s in them. I gravitate more to herbs and spices rather than fruit flavors. My current favorite is Fired Up Fennel from Davids Tea.

I love mate (and guayusa). It helped me kick my coffee habit to one cup a day. I will try any blend with mate in it. My current favorite is Chocolate Rocket from Davids Tea.

White Tea-Sadly, I haven’t tried many white teas but I am planning on it very soon.

Oolong Tea-I have tried one or two oolong teas but in blends only. I am dying to try a straight oolong. My current favorite is Milk Oolong by Mandala Tea.

Rooibos-I love rooibos blends but they are very hit and miss with me. I love the woodiness of rooibos. My favorite is currently Oh Canada from Davids Tea.

Flavored Tea-I love flavored teas. I am willing to try just about any flavor combination and the weirder the better. My current favorite flavored tea is Laoshan Black Chocolate Genmaicha by Verdant Tea.

I am always searching for a tea with fig or chili in it.

My favorite tea companies-Mandala Tea (their Phatty Cake was my first ever “Oh My God” tea moment), Butiki Teas, Verdant Tea, and Davids Tea


Staten Island, New York



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