612 Tasting Notes


I dig the way this has a sort of floral, perfume-y thing going on, not just straight up sweet strawberry. And there’s definitely a rich creamy-pastry thing going on in the aroma too; it’s less evident in the swallow, but the overall effect really is of good homemade shortcake with freshly whipped cream and sunpicked fresh berries, the small flowery-smelling sort, not the bland supermarket behemoths. Nice. I’m sure the slice of strawberry cake I happened to have on hand and enjoyed with this didn’t hurt either!

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 15 sec

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drank Pecan Pie by Culinary Teas
612 tasting notes

This tea while it’s brewing really does smell like good pecan pie—you know, a pie that’s more about roasted nuts and buttery flaky pastry than a ton of corn syrup goo—and almost a little chocolate-y, sort of like Dorie Greenspan’s very adult/sophisticated recipe for chocolate pecan pie with the secret ingredient of a little espresso powder. So that’s a plus.

As for the actual flavor while drinking…like Irish Cream, not a lot to write home about bad or good at first. But once it cools slightly and a tiny pinch of raw sugar is added, the pecan pie flavor comes through. I’m beginning to suspect most of the Culinary Teas dessert-y flavored teas I got are going to need this treatment; I don’t think they enhance their sweetness with sugar or licorice root or whatnot in the bag, which hey, I’m not complaining (you can always add sweeteners, but you can’t get rid of them if put there as part of the blend!). It doesn’t take much sugar to let the nutty caramel flavor shine through. The nutty taste is still slightly thin on the first/front part of the swallow, but then it deepens and lingers nicely in the aftertaste.

I still don’t think so far CT’s rich dessert-y flavored black offerings are on par with, say, American Tea Room’s, but they’re a step up from supermarket brands and they definitely don’t taste adulterated with cheap artificial ingredients.

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 15 sec

This one has been on my shopping list for while now, but I’m on a tea buying halt. But, if this keeps me away from the pecan pie at the amish market, it might be worth it.


It’s pretty good, just wish the flavor was stronger. But heads up ’cause I have the roughest tastebuds imaginable; I like peaty scotch for example, ha.

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drank Irish Cream by Culinary Teas
612 tasting notes

at first i was pretty disappointed because as another reviewer said, there’s not much going on here, good or bad. just tastes like plain nothing-fancy black tea. but there’s a creaminess to the finish, a thick silky mouthfeel, that accumulates as you drink the cup as it cools down. it’s still not quite what i was hoping for, but it’s not bad either. fairly faint and nondescript.

there was also the slightest twinge of bitterness initially, but i blame my steeping approach and haven’t made that mistake since with CT’s stuff (it needs to be slightly less than boiling and definitely not a full 3 minutes).

next time i’ll try adding a bit of raw sugar and see if it helps.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Anastasia Tea by American Tea Room
612 tasting notes

I wanted to like this more, and it’s definitely not bad (I’ve yet to have anything from ATR that doesn’t feel, smell, and taste high quality and smartly blended/crafted), but it’s too perfume-y in a way that signals “don’t consume this” for me.

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This tea smells AMAZING dry, like they didn’t skimp on the saffron at all (which is pretty awesome considering how very expensive decent saffron is!). Whoo boy. Brewed it mellows a lot and tastes almost vegetal more than sweetly spiced, which is tasty in its own right but somehow a little disappointing after that whammy of a first impression dry. Really good, don’t get me wrong, but not as dessert-y as I was expecting. It’s funny, it was sort of the opposite phases of expectations—>dry aroma—>brewed experience from my encounter with ATR’s Toasted Fig. Now that my expectations will be more aligned with final results, I’m sure I’ll enjoy both thoroughly.

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drank Holiday Chai by Stash Tea
612 tasting notes

Tied with Stash’s Vanilla Nut Creme as my favorite supermarket bagged tea of choice for a quick sweet treat (this one has caffeine though). I always add milk and a tiny pinch of raw sugar.

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Tied with Stash’s Holiday Chai as my favorite supermarket bagged tea of choice for a quick dessert treat (bonus, little/no caffeine!). I always add milk and a tiny pinch of raw sugar.

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drank White Christmas by Stash Tea
612 tasting notes

My go-to tea for when I have a cold during the winter holiday season (which I inevitably always do, grr!). Bagged is actually preferred in such situations, when I can barely crawl out of bed to boil water let alone deal with loose tea.

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For someone like me who isn’t that crazy about mint and chamomile and prefers “dark” roasty flavors, this isn’t the most delicious thing (it’s sweet in a strange rooty, not creamy or soft sort of way, and there’s a hint of bitterness I’m guessing is from the hops) but it’s definitely at least drinkable. The smell was a little odd to me at first—vaguely like mold or mildew—but it softens and a cleaner more herbal aroma takes its place.

More importantly than any of that though, I’m so pleased to find this works really well for me! I’ve tried valerian in pill supplement form before to help me sleep—I have a terrible time falling asleep/getting relaxed enough to go to sleep, though usually once I do fall asleep I’m out nice and deep—and it didn’t really work while having a noticeable effect on my mental perception (my brain felt…“softer”, perception more muted and gauzy, not in a bad way, kind of relaxing but more a steady twilight thing than a strong shot towards going to sleep…it was like being dissociated, floating outside of myself watching myself and my reactions through a veil). This feels similar, but less weird (not as dissociated) and more comforting, gentler yet more pervasive all around. A single cup alone was immediately super relaxing and that sleepy-in-a-good-comforting way really lasted! Last week I was averaging 2-4 hours of sleep a night the entire week (ugh), then I made 2 cups of this Saturday night and pretty much immediately got sleepy, aaaaand slept for 12 frickin’ hours (!), and it was the deepest sleep imaginable. I feel completely rebooted, like last week’s insomnia-induced nightmare has been wiped clean from my body and brain. I’m so happy to find a sleepytime blend that really works.

Update: Yeeeeah, I don’t think I will ever be without this tea. Bonus, it resteeps quite decently, so my regular bedtime cuppa won’t add up quite so quickly.

5 min, 0 sec

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drank Romanoff by American Tea Room
612 tasting notes

Smells wonderful dry, and I like that the citrus is of the rich, dessert-y type, not the bracing astringent fruit sort—more like one of those chocolate oranges you smash open than morning marmalade. Like others, I only smell sweet orange when it’s dry, no smoke, and when brewed the smoke emerges and the orange recedes a bit (still definitely there though!). It is not as sweet as you might imagine, which I also appreciate; if I want it sweeter at times I can do that myself.

190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec

Well, i tried it today. im not sure i can rate it properly. something missing…too mild perhaps. maybe its good for ppl who prefer nice good safe cup of tea. i want something bold.

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“…you can never know everything about anything, especially something you love.”
-Julia Child on food and cooking, and I think it applies to tea as well!

note: i am currently taking a break from swapping/mail of any kind as money is rather tight. i apologize! i do love to swap but i can’t afford to right now. hopefully in a month things will change.

my cupboard includes any tea i’ve ever owned, including things i’ve sipped down, in order to facilitate swaps with people and keep a record—this way i don’t get redundant samples/order duplicates to try. if you are interested in swapping, i have a separate ever-updated list of teas i actually have on hand i can PM.

i like strong, rich blacks (including some choice old skool CTCs); juicy-fruity flavored green blends; buttery chinese greens; light floral oolongs; flavored oolongs (how sacrilegious!); earl greys; smoky blends; second flush muscatel darjeelings; verdant’s straight oolongs steeped in a gaiwan (mind altering!); anything from laoshan village it seems.

favorite notes include lavender, bergamot, violet, fennel, cardamom, melon, honey, sandalwood, smoke, nuts, roasty/toasty stuff, malt, wood, leather, creamy lemon, steamed rice, artichoke, garden-sweet snap veggies, earth/soil, forest and wet bark, and mushroom.

notes i generally can’t stand (at least in tea) include jasmine, rose (ok in small doses but i often find it overpowering and then everything just smells like musty old lady perfume), astringent apple (and general fruitiness really unless it’s with green tea), and chamomile (unless i’m congested or tired).

my current favorite tea vendors are butiki and harney and sons. i’ve also found some delicious teas and/or had good customer service experiences with the following companies: capital tea ltd., the devotea, verdant, mandala, golden moon, teavivre, lupicia, taiwan tea crafts, yezi tea, den’s tea, the tea merchant, norbu, fauchon paris, tao tea leaf, zen tea, fortnum and mason, townshend’s tea, joy’s teaspoon, new mexico tea company, persimmon tree, teajo teas, whispering pines, della terra, upton imports, mariage freres, samovar, justea, teabox, american tea room, steven smith, steap shoppe, utopia tea, and andrews and dunham damn fine tea. when i’m at the grocery store my “you could do worse” brands include stash, bigelow, tazo, taylors of harrogate, whittard of chelsea, and pg tips. and it’s a fact: you can’t make classic southern sweet tea without luzianne.

top picks, fall 2013

verdant zhu rong yunnan black
verdant laoshan black
thepuriTea hong jing luo (no longer available :( )
thepuriTea red dragon pearl (no longer available :( )
mandala morning sun
golden moon honey orchid
verdant golden fleece
taiwan tea crafts red jade
yezi tea zheng shan xiao zhong “scotch” tea
capital tea borsapori estate assam tgfop1 (spl)
butiki khongea golden tippy assam
butiki giddahapar darjeeling extra special
upton imports fikkal estate
golden moon sinharaja
harney and sons new vithanakande
persimmon tree vintage black
teajo teas black manas
justea kenyan black
harney and sons kangaita op

morning blends:
butiki the black lotus
harney and sons queen catherine
harney and sons eight at the fort
harney and sons big red sun
harney and sons scottish morn
golden moon irish breakfast
harney and sons irish breakfast
utopia tea english breakfast
fortnum and mason breakfast blend (needs milk!)
andrews and dunham double knit blend
steven smith no. 25 morning light
butiki irish cream cheesecake

earl greys and scented afternoon blends:
teajo teas silky earl grey
harney and sons viennese earl grey
upton imports lavender earl grey
american tea room victoria
lupicia earl grey grand classic
harney and sons tower of london
tao tea leaf cream earl grey
zen tea earl grey cream
della terra earl grey creme
upton imports season’s pick earl grey creme vanilla
upton imports baker street afternoon blend
harney and sons russian country
della terra professor grey
verdant earl of anxi

flavored black:
herbal infusions moose tracks
american tea room brioche
steap shoppe cinnamon swirl bread
della terra oatmeal raisin cookie
butiki nutmeg cream
kusmi caramel
david’s tea brazillionaire
lupicia banane chocolat
butiki hello sweetie
fauchon paris raspberry macaron
butiki blueberry purple tea
herbal infusions marshmallow snowflake earl grey
herbal infusions creme brulee chai

pu erh:
mandala loose and luscious lincang 2007 shu/ripe pu erh
mandala special dark 2006 shu/ripe pu erh

verdant shui jin gui wuyi oolong
verdant hand-picked early spring tieguanyin
butiki 2003 reserve four season oolong
harney and sons formosa oolong
tea merchant silk dragon
golden moon coconut pouchong
zen tea coconut oolong
american tea room coconut oolong
teavivre taiwan jin xuan milk oolong
butiki flowery pineapple oolong
butiki lychee oolong
lupicia momo oolong supergrade
butiki strawberry oolong
butiki pumpkin milkshake darjeeling oolong
52teas tiramisu oolong

verdant laoshan bilochun green
verdant autumn harvest laoshan green
tao tea leaf hou kui
harney and sons tencha
harney and sons gyokuro
new mexico casablanca
butiki with open eyes
american tea room nirvana
joy’s teaspoon mahalo
den’s tea pineapple sencha
harney and sons tokyo
butiki potato pancakes and applesauce
butiki holiday eggnog and pralines
den’s tea organic genmaicha with matcha
golden moon hojicha

butiki cantaloupe and cream
butiki champagne and rose cream

no caf:
harney and sons soba buckwheat
butiki birthday cake
della terra lemon chiffon
52teas strawberry pie honeybush
butiki mango lassi
joy’s teaspoon italian dream
butiki coconut cream pie rooibos
butiki peppermint patty
persimmon tree mint chocolate chip rooibos
art of tea velvet tea
fusion teas chocolate cake honeybush
american tea room choco-late
steven smith no. 40 bon bon
townshend’s tea dark forest chai
utopia tea decaffeinated earl grey cream

sleep aid/medicinal/therapeutic:
new mexico extra sleepy bear
stash white christmas
verdant ginger sage winter spa blend
samovar turmeric spice
butiki the killer’s vanilla guayusa

coldsteeped wonders:
whispering pines manistee moonrise
harney and sons fruits d’alsace
utopia tea berkshire apple and fig
culinary teas peaches and cream
butiki peach hoppiTea
butiki ruby pie
whispering pines gingerade

besides tea

born in seoul, raised in new england and upstate new york, went to college in pittsburgh, currently in memphis with an eye toward philadelphia, portland, or asheville eventually.

i like cats, most beverages really (i also like good freshly roasted coffee, craft beer, wine, whiskey and gin-based cocktails, and soda/soft drinks like agua fresca), art (mainly writing but also visual and music) and critical theory, feminism/genderqueer politics, historiography, statistics, children’s literature and librarianship, travel, and food/cooking. also have recently gotten into weightlifting (mark rippetoe and stumptuous!) and sprint training (HIIT, plyometrics) and i love it.


Memphis, TN



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