321 Tasting Notes

drank Maple Apple Blondies by 52teas
321 tasting notes

Ashmanra’s Sipdown Challenge | December 2023 | National Cookie Day: Drink a cookie-flavored tea!

My recent Simpson & Vail order added quite a few cookie-inspired teas to my stash, but none of them were ready for a sipdown. So instead I’m going cookie-adjacent with this blondie-inspired tea! I brewed up a nice personal pot using the remaining leaves and am enjoying it with some Biscoff cookies as an afternoon snack.

I still really love this one. It’s such a comforting, cozy cuppa. Today I’m tasting a bit of woodiness I didn’t notice in previous cups, which is a nice counterbalance to the sweet maple and apple notes. Just such a perfect autumnal tea. <3

2023 sipdown count: 55

Flavors: Apple, Maple, Smooth, Soft, Sweet, Woody


Nice! Mine wasn’t an actual sipdown. I am having to dig around to find things that are even close so I can get a few sipdowns in this month but I know I won’t make my goal for the year. I am closer and have cleared some of my oldest teas so that is satisfying!


It’s great to say goodbye to some of those old ones!

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drank Pink Anise Black Tea by 52teas
321 tasting notes

Ashmanra’s Sipdown Challenge | December 2023 | A tea you drank at the beginning of 2023

Oh, my. I’ve really fallen off on my sipdowns in the past few months. I’ve just been so incredibly busy. But! December actually promises to be a much less hectic month. I’ve got just 2.5 weeks of classes left for the semester, and that’s really my biggest timesuck outside of work/internship. I hope to enjoy lots of quality tea-drinking time in the weeks ahead.

Anyway, I first drank this tea back in February, so it seems like a good fit for this prompt! I really enjoy this one. There’s a lot going on, but that just means each sip is fun! :D

2023 sipdown count: 54

Flavors: Licorice, Licorice Root, Marshmallow, Root Beer, Sarsaparilla, Star Anise

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Homemade Advent Calendar from Arby: Day 3

I pulled a caffeine-free fruity tisane from the box this morning and drank it this evening while taking a relaxing bath. :D I should note that the tea Arby sent is from Banff Tea, but the blend is pretty identical to this listing, so… I’m using it. This blend also has Saskatoon berries, but they’re not an ingredient on Steepster.

So this could’ve been fun and interesting if not for the hibiscus. It’s just so strong and tart! And it’s a shame, because I can tell there are some neat flavors here — the herbal blend reminded me of like, aromatic bitters or some kind of herbal digestif. Which is, generally, a flavor family I really enjoy… when I can actually taste the different elements.

I think I’ll try cold brewing, because I bet that will temper the hibiscus and let some of those other flavors shine.

Flavors: Bitter, Citrus Zest, Herbaceous, Herbal, Tart


I like this one cold brewed but you have to add sweetener (both maple syrup and brown sugar work well with the berry fruity notes). It’s also fabulous steeped in lemonade.


Thank you for the tips!

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Homemade Advent Calendar from Arby: Day 2

I really enjoy violet as a flavor but I rarely remember to dig out the one or two violet teas in my stash, so I was pleased when this one emerged as my random selection today. And I was equally as pleased once I steeped it up! It was straight-up violet at first, but as it cooled, a bit of creaminess emerged to round it out. I only got a hint or two of chocolate, but I think I’m OK with that. All in all, I enjoyed this one!

Flavors: Chocolate, Creamy, Violet

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drank Elf Help by DAVIDsTEA
321 tasting notes

Homemade Advent Calendar from Arby: Day 1

IT’S ADVENT SEASONNN! My life is severely overbooked and the obligation to drink + review too many teas will stress me out, so I’m keeping it conservative this year: I did the Steepster homemade calendar swap and got the 52Teas 12 Days of Christmas box. (Aaand then I was #teafluenced by CameronB to pick up the adorable Tea Thoughts stationery advent, so that will be arriving soon.) But I love reading advent reviews and seeing what everyone’s up to, so I’m excited!

Anyway, day 1! Arby’s teas aren’t numbered, so I decided to pick randomly. (Although I did let myself choose a second blend when the first pick was caffeine-free… morning tea requires caffeine!) So now I’m starting with this very seasonally appropriate green blend.

The taste is a bit weak compared to the citrusy sweet scent of the blend, but it’s not bad. I’m not really picking up fruitcake vibes — more like a creamy citrus? — but it’s pleasant enough. Interesting that the coconut doesn’t really come through in taste, though it does provide that sort of creamy backbone. Then there’s a slight zing from the cranberries, though I wouldn’t mind those being a bit stronger!

Flavors: Citrusy, Cranberry, Creamy

Cameron B.

Always happy to shill for Tea Thoughts! XD

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Yum, yum, yum. Grabbed one of these minis from a TTB this year and I’m enjoying it on this slow Friday morning as I do some schoolwork. Such a deep and lovely pine smoke layered on top of the smooth, rich shou. It’s a thicc one!

Flavors: Petrichor, Smoke, Smooth, Thick

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My first time trying this tea, which appears to be quite a fan favorite! And I can understand why. It’s a big cup of buttery maple-y pancake-y goodness. I’m sipping it on a chilly, rainy morning while staring out my home office window, enjoying the contrast between the overcast grey sky and the vibrant red and gold leaves on my neighbors’ trees. I should be working. (I’m sort of working.) But sometimes tea and contemplation take precedence.

Flavors: Butter, Drying, Maple, Maple Syrup, Pancake Syrup


Mmmmm. I may’ve sweetened this one with some maple syrup. :D

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I wish I’d read the Steepster reviews on this one before adding it to my cart! It’s such a promising concept, but all I get is clove, clove, and more clove, all on a very weak base. Disappointing. :(

Flavors: Clove

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I finally used the Simpson & Vail gift card my mother-in-law gave me for the holidays last year, and my purchases arrived today! It’s too late in the day for caffeine, so I’m starting my tasting with a caffeine-free blend.

This smells incredibly buttery and rich, with lovely vanilla cake notes. It basically smells like vanilla buttercream. I find the brewed cup a smidge thin, but still tasty—I like that the green rooibos is pretty nondescript, so the cake flavors come through. It’s especially nice as it cools.

It definitely reminds me of Bird & Blend’s birthday cake tea. With that one, I found myself waaay overleafing it to really bring out the creamy vanilla cake flavors, so I’ll probably try that here, too.

Still, a nice cuppa when you want dessert-y vibes!

Flavors: Butter, Cake, Creamy, Frosting, Vanilla

Boiling 5 min, 30 sec

We had this last night! I am definitely buying a refill while it’s on sale.

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Well, this is a delightful little number. Maybe an oddly springlike choice for a fairly dreary late October day, but I’m enjoying it!

It’s very smooth and silky, and actually quite mild. There’s a hint of sweet pea and powdered sugar and very little grassiness or vegetal earthiness. So mellow!

Flavors: Garden Peas, Powdered Sugar, Silky, Smooth

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I was an anxious child who didn’t like change, so when my parents flew across the country for my grandfather’s wedding and left us kids with my aunt and uncle, I was a nervous wreck. Our first night at their house was tough. I couldn’t sleep, so I got up and padded into the kitchen, where my aunt was puttering around. She could tell I was distressed and offered to make me a cup of tea. It was just Celestial Seasonings’ peppermint tea, but it was exactly what I needed. The tea itself, the comfort it represented, the ritual of making it… I was enchanted. I’ve loved tea ever since.

I’m partial to strong, intense flavors and prefer loose-leaf to bagged, but I also appreciate the convenience of bags and sachets. I mostly drink my tea straight but once in a blue moon I’ll add a little plant-based milk, generally oat.

I live in Maryland, USA, with my partner, three dogs, and one cat, and I’m an editor at an animal welfare nonprofit. I use she/her pronouns. I’ve actually been a Steepster reader for years and years, but only started posting in late 2021. :)

When I’m not drinking tea (or sometimes WHILE I’m drinking tea!) I’m reading, rewatching comfort shows on Netflix, going for a run, knitting, embroidering, hiking, or puttering in the garden. You can find me on Instagram at @kelmishka. (My account is private, but feel free to send a request!)

Favorite ingredients, flavors, etc.

Maple (all-time fave flavor!), vanilla, caramel, and all things dessert-y

Jasmine, lavender, violet, and most floral flavors

Most spices, although I go through phases and sometimes get bored of generic-feeling winter spice blends

Most fruity flavors

Matcha and other vegetal flavors

Not-so-favorite ingredients, flavors, etc.

Bergamot (I tolerate it, but it just doesn’t do it for me)


Overly artificial flavors (banana, coconut, mango)

Overly herbacious blends, although this varies!

Stevia, monkfruit, and other sugar-alternative sweeteners — blech

Chocolate — it’s hard to get it right in tea, though I love real chocolate!

Animal products, including honey (long-time vegan checking in!)

My ratings

90-100: The best! Will almost definitely repurchase.

75-90: Really good, and potentially worthy of a restock.

60-75: Decent, if not terribly memorable.

50-60: In the “meh” range, but possibly for personal taste reasons.

35-50: I’m not a fan, and this is not very good tea.

20-35: Varying degrees of bad.

1-20: Actively bad. Like really bad. I can’t imagine anyone disagreeing.


Maryland, USA

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