863 Tasting Notes


All the talk of “top ten 52Teas blends” had me wanting some of my old favorites. Two of those old favorites, Hot Buttered Banana Bread, and French Vanilla Assam, are no longer in my possession (sad panda). But this one was.

I don’t drink this a lot, which confuses me, because I like strawberries and cream. But for whatever reason it’s not a flavor I’m wanting ALL the time in a tea. Banana bread? Absolutely. Vanilla and caramel? ALL THE DAYS. But this one is just more particular.

It’s also particular in that I only like it with milk and sugar. It’s a dessert tea more than a breakfast one because of this. It’s hit the spot tonight, though, as I read some more of “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.” I’m chewing through books lately. But books + tea + winter is pretty much the best thing ever, so life could be a lot worse. :)

Flavors: Cream, Custard, Strawberry

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Continuation of my earlier steepings..

Steep five: 2 minutes. This may have been a bit much, as the white grape skin astringency is back. This was quite drying on the tongue, and not as pleasant as when this occurred before. I’ll back off on the steep time for the next go around…

Steep six: 2 minutes. The astringence faded off again and now I have more of a grape juicy sweet tea. (minus additives, since I don’t really like additives in anything but black teas).

Steep seven: 3 minutes. There’s more of a mineral and floral flavor to this, now. Still good, and I know its got life in it yet but I’m suffering from a bit of flavor fatigue here. Also I’m pretty sure tea drunk is a phrase that applies here.

Definitely good stuff, and I have a feeling the more of the sheng pu’er I try the more I’ll realize just how good this is.

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec 4 g

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This was my very first raw pu’er. I needed something to soothe an aching stomach and even though I didn’t necessarily want to fuss with the gaiwan and steep times, I managed. For the tea.

So, 4 g. (half my sample) in my little Midori and a 15 second rinse, then a first steep of 15 seconds. I didn’t get much smell from the dry leaf, maybe just a vague earth scent . The taste is surprisingly tangy, and also buttery and green. It reminds me strongly of a green oolong, actually. The exception is a small fermentation taste as well. It’s not fishy EXACTLY – I’m thinking its what happens with age to the fish notes in less aged pu’er. Fascinating! And towards the end of this steep I’m also getting notes of florality. So far I’m liking this a lot more than any pu’er I’ve had before!

Steep two: 30 seconds. The leaf has become more earthy in scent. This steeping is much more fruity and astringent. It reminds me of the taste/texture of grape skin, actually. Sweet but also very drying on the tongue. The note of fermentation is gone from this steep.

Steep three: 45 seconds. More buttery and florality has returned to the tea, and the fruity astringence is gone. This pu’er changes very dramatically from one steep to the next. I’m glad that the astringence is gone though – I was worried I’d done the impossible and over-steeped a pu’er! I’m still amazed at how very oolong-y this all is.

Steep four: 1 minute. Nothing remarkably different about the flavor profile here. Still a light green tea and pleasurable to drink but I didn’t notice anything from the other few steepings. I’m keeping this around to finish up with dinner tonight because there’s a lot of life left in these leaves, so I’ll be back later to update this!

I will say that I think this pu’er may have shown me the light. It’s done wonders for helping my stomach feel better, too….

Flavors: Butter, Floral, Tangy, Wet Earth, White Grapes

205 °F / 96 °C 4 g

A gongfu session with this will really allow a much different experience. I tried both and like the gongfu method best.

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Super long digression ahead – sorry in advance!

What a WEEK, you guys.

Since the boyfriend and I want to move out Oregon way we took a week and flew from ATL to Portland, and explored everything. I mean, EVERYTHING. We did the Columbia River Gorge, drove to Salem/Eugene/Corvallis and out to Newport to see the coast. It is so beautiful, and I do feel good about the move we’ll make soon.

While we were out there (we went in January on purpose, btw, since we needed to gauge what the peak of winter was like) on the cold rainy days we had a lot of bagged Bigelow teas, which I really enjoyed just because it was serious tea drinking weather. But now I’m back with MY teas, and even though its not too cold or rainy here, I wanted something warm and cosy to drink.

And I’m trying really hard not to think about how awesome it would be to have one of these snazzy mugs (http://www.madeinoregon.com/Mystic-Water-Right-Handed-Hand-Warmer-Mug.html) to drink said tea out of. I have enough mugs, self. REALLY. I do.

Okay, tea review time

Last time I had this the scent was kind of a fake vanilla. And it did the same thing this time – it was so very vanilla that it turned into chocolate scent wise. While I love vanilla very much and in teas think it is generally awesome, I do not feel the same way about chocolate. So, this could be why last time it didn’t seem to leave much of an impression.

The first sip of this is quite good: malty black tea with a buttery vanilla finish. No chocolate notes, yay! Maybe the vanilla addition needed to settle for a week or two?

Yes, overall this cup is much better than the first one. I’ll bump up the rating on it and then its off to read some Milan Kundera before hitting the sack. It’s so nice to be in my own space again…

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

those mugs are really pretty…


what a gorgeous mug….

and this tea…<3<3<3

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Bought this sample with my last Upton order because the boyfriend was intrigued. And he also has short term memory loss because he cannot recall said interest. Good thing it was a.) cheap, and b.) I like Earl Grey, although I do prefer the Earl Grey Cream iterations.

Steeped per package directions, which happens to be my preferred method of steeping a black tea anyway. It smelled super bergamot-ty, which made me nervous initially because know I’ve had an Earl Grey from Teavana that seemed to give me headaches.

This tea, despite it’s very strong bergamot taste and scent, didn’t affect me that way though! Yay! Maybe it was just something in the Teavana blend, or maybe I’ve just upped my tolerance of it since the many years between that Earl Grey and this one. It is definitely too sharp of a flavor to have without additives, however. And there is not really much in the way of a ‘tea’ flavor to be had.

So: with milk and sugar, this turns into quite a good Earl Grey. I don’t miss out on the lack of vanilla as much, either. According to Upton’s site it is one of their more popular blends and I see why. I will definitely drink up the rest of the sample (and make the boyfriend drink some of it too, haha) but I think Earl Grey Creams are still my preferred varietal.

Flavors: Bergamot

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

I think I might have to try this one. I love me some bergamot!

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I’m on a sipdown roll today, it would seem…

Ohhh this smells gorgeous. Pie-like, or a warm fruit compote maybe. I am having this last cup plain and just marveling over how it seemed to get better with time. I will miss this but savor every single sip of it.

Flavors: Cake, Plum, Spices

185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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drank French Toast by 52teas
863 tasting notes

Sip down this morning – had enough for one big mug of this.

I was too lazy to get up and add milk and sugar, so while this is brisk it actually has a great cinnamony flavor and chewy, bready texture.

This wasn’t one of my favorite teas from 52teas, but once I got the parameters right it was definitely one of the more accurate. And it’s a nice cozy cup to have on this VERY cold day.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

ahah, we both had this one this morning. (X^D)

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Had this while looking up job postings this AM. Definitely a nice, bright start to my morning. :)

I looked at my previous tasting note for this and still agree with it – you get the citrus and then the tea & cream notes but it definitely all works. It’s a great, if similar tea to Noel a Venise and when I run out of both I’m going to have a hard time choosing which to restock!

(Yeah right. I’ll totally restock both of them…I know myself way too well.)

Flavors: Butter, Cream, Lemon, Milk, Vanilla

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

This sounds good :)


This one is fantastic iced as well.


heh. really glad this one worked out for you

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Today’s my 4 year Steepster-versary!

I had this tea because I have a bunch of tea samples that really need to go…but I really think this one will have to be restocked. Unlike my other favorite East Frisian tea, this one stands alone without milk and sugar. This tea has higher quality leaves, as opposed to the East Frisian BOP, so that’s probably why the overt bitterness isn’t present.

It is a nice strong assam-ish black with very subtle vanilla – neither taste overpowers the other in my opinion. I like both Frisian blends but on days where I just want a breakfast tea without the hassle of additives, this is a solid option.

Flavors: Malt, Vanilla

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

Congratulations! Happy 4 years steepster-versary.


happy steepsterversary!


Four years is amazing! Congrats :)


yay! i’ve been here since 2011 myself :)


Congrats on the milestone


Congrats! I am still a “newbie”.


Aww, thanks you guys! You guys are a huge part of what makes it so fun!

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drank Uji Shincha #4 by Kettl
863 tasting notes

Okay, so I tried the Obukucha and it was good and then it reminded me about how I have this Uji shincha that’s not getting any younger, just languishing away in my cupboard. And then I remembered the pine-y ocean breeze smell and thought, I bet that would go really well with some leftover chicken pad thai.

And here we are.

Steep 1: Yummm… this is an excellent steep, just like last time- piney salt air, very light green, almost colorless liquor. THIS I like. The hints of brine and umami aren’t as strong as the obukucha but these are still the basic characteristics I love in a green. I drank this quickly and it did pair well with the pad thai. And the leaves in my gaiwan smell just like buttered spinach. Seriously I could put soy sauce on that and eat it.

Steep two: I was extra mindful of not wanting to steep this too long since this is where it all went wrong last time. So, I went 45 seconds again (rather than 1 minute like the second steep last time) – and the SAME THING happened :(. I guess I could go a SHORTER steep for the second go around – maybe 20 seconds to start off with? Because this is undrinkable and bitter as is.

Back to the drawing board, but the first steep is so promising that I can’t count it out just yet…

Flavors: Ocean Breeze, Pine

170 °F / 76 °C 0 min, 45 sec 4 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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My tea habits:

*I am an unashamed Lipton iced-tea drinker (mass quantities, year round).
*I like hot teas but only in cold weather (and occasionally late summer nights or mornings).
*I love Japanese greens (the more seaweed-y the better) and good strong malty black teas.
*I do NOT love smoke in any form.
*Vanilla, cinnamon, or lemon anything will usually pique my interest.
*I’m working on pu-erh but it’s definitely going to take some time to grow on me.

(updated September 2015)


Medford, OR

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