54 Tasting Notes


I received a free sample several months ago, and life slipped in and put me on a bit of a tea-drinking hiatus, but a fall breeze had me craving Jasmine tea. So lucky for me, I had TeaVivre’s Jasmine Silver Needle in my cupboard.

Very well balanced flavoring. The jasmine scent does not overpower, and it doesn’t evolve into being a “sugary-sweet” note as with other producers. I could actually still pick up on the flavor of the leaves themselves, and it drinks very smoothly rather than forcing the cheeks to prepare for “syrup wince” – what happens when I try teas that are too sweet for my liking.

It’s persuaded me to re-think whether I’ll buy the other producer’s Jasmine pearls again. Really hit my preference zone for richness, delicacy, and balance.

Pictures and more detail at my blog: http://bit.ly/PaBpEq


What a beautiful iron tea kettle!

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As with many other Steepsters, I’m playing catch-up, as I’ve been enjoying this tea for a while, but life has dragged me away from my tea writing for a bit. I’ve enjoyed this tea, but I think after comparing it to a Keemun ‘A’ grade I had before I had this sample of what is labeled as ‘premium’ that I prefer keemun a bit more toward the floral side, with less smoke.
Nonetheless, it’s very balanced and clean in the cup, great for nursing a soar throat if you’re drinking it by itself or pairing it with sweet/spicy foods.

A couple of pics of the dry leaf and added thoughts (including the tea wand I first used to infuse it with) are at my blog. http://bit.ly/JHFW00

Overall, a good quality keemun, but I will probably reach for my local shop’s ‘A’ for my regular cup simply because I like the orchid notes over the smoky notes.

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I like flowering teas, but I’ve never found them to be the tastiest of teas. There was a point about five years ago where I stocked up on blooming tea because they were so portable – you pop a bloom in a tumbler, add hot water, drink and add more hot water, and you have flavored tea/water for most of the day. I took it with me on bike rides and to 5k walk/run events because it was easier to drink than plain water. That’s not to mention that it’s entertaining to see each bloom pop open. But it isn’t the first thing I reach for when I’m craving “real” to, so-to-speak.

This was another generous sample provided by Teavivre and it’s certainly the highest quality blooming tea I’ve tried. I put mine in a glass tumbler with 10 oz of water, decanted into a regular mug, and found that to be fine for extracting flavor. It did get slightly bitter, but not undrinkably so. It maintained its green sweetness, and of course there’s the floral that shows up more in the aftertaste than in the initial sip.

I would have no problem using this as a centerpiece at an occasion – a small 2-cup glass teapot on the table at a wedding reception or bridal shower for something delicate to go with delicate sweets…the possibilities are intriguing…

I took a close up pic and posted on my blog review: http://bit.ly/whMPIh I’d definitely purchase more of this True Love variety for a future occasion.


this looks so beautiful after steeped^^

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Another generous sample provided, another good quality green tea. It calmed me down from my “back-to-work-after-vacation” mood. Crisp finish, a buttery start, but not vegetal or hay-like in the cup (just faintly in the dry-leaf aroma). I steeped it the usual way and it met expectations, though on my list of personal preferences, it’s third on the list behind different Japanese greens, and Silver Needle. It has a relative sweetness to it, but it didn’t seem to fully commit to a particular profile. Very smooth, drinkable, go-to green tea, and I would have no problem recommending it to those who are looking for a smoother, less-grassy green tea experience. I just happen to be one of those mavericks who likes stronger flavors when I’m craving a green.

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This was new territory for me – the ‘Dark Tea’ category puts this tea in the same vein as a Pu-er, they’re both post-fermented and reputed to offer the same benefit of help with digestion, pro-biotics and so-forth, but this Fu-Brick had me fooled. It’s compressed and aged like a Pu-er, but the leaves are decidedly younger and greener. Much more subtle in flavor, fresher, and hay-like, as described.
I steeped it in the traditional way, a yixing pot, pre-rinse, and about 4 minutes. I haven’t really had time yet to scratch the surface, but I get the impression that re-steeps of this tea could yield even more complex sips, likely on the floral end. If you’ve tried pu-er and weren’t impressed, you might want to try this side of the post-fermented varieties. Very drinkable and not so much of the ‘earthiness’ that turns some people away, but personally that’s what draws me to pu-er.

Pictures and more thoughts in my full review: http://latteteadah.blogspot.com/2011/12/fu-brick-dark-tea-teasource.html

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drank Zoubrovka by Kusmi Tea
54 tasting notes

I knew there was something familiar in the name Zoubrovka. Turns out there’s a Polish vodka infused with the same buffalo grass of the same name. Wasn’t aware I was purchasing a Polish tea blend, but I’m all the more pleased with the discovery (being part Polish.)

So what does a black tea infused with buffalo grass taste like? I honestly found it to be similar to the sakura teas I’ve tried – floral and cherry notes over a smooth black tea. I don’t drink alcohol, but if the buffalo grass flavors the famous vodka brand as well as it does, I understand the appeal!

This is the second Kusmi I’ve tried and they’re 2 for 2. Strong without being astringent, flavoring that doesn’t knock you over in lieu of the tea itself. The Zoubrovka blend doesn’t hint at it’s floral/cherry notes in the dry leaf or aroma, but it’s there in the sip. A delicious daytime sipper for the office.

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drank Kashmir Tchai by Kusmi Tea
54 tasting notes

This isn’t a typical chai spice blend, and they don’t market it as such. It’s Nepalese chai as opposed to other blends I’ve tried that are authentic to southern India. This one is on the savory side and has almost a floral underpinning, might be due to the bay leaf? There’s still the trademark cardamom, there’s some ginger. But the base tea is a chinese black, making it a little smoother than the other chais I’m familiar with.

I’m absolutely hooked on the ‘novelty’ (new-to-me) of the flavor. It’s strong without being overpowering, I don’t feel like I “need” the milk to enjoy it to the fullest.
In full disclosure, this is the first Kusmi I’ve tasted, but I’m impressed. I discovered a real-deal authentic southern indian spice blend last week with another brand that I like, but this one eclipses it for drinkability. It was part of my holiday “treat” to myself – new teas, old comfort treats as the workdays wind down and the celebrating starts.

Tonight I enjoyed this with some homemade kolache. Pics of the muslin sample bag I brewed first (came with my order of the 4 oz loose chai) and a simple recipe for kolache are posted on my blog. http://bit.ly/smBTxv

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drank Zimova Fantasja by Malwa
54 tasting notes

A Polish herbal tea, winter fruit-based, hence the name ‘Winter Fantasy’ – blends apple, hibiscus, berries, star anise, cinammon, and so forth. This was the stringless bag version.
I happened upon it at my local Baltic gift store, they also sell Malwa blends in ‘loose-leaf’ though they’re all tisanes. This gift store also sells this on line, but you might have trouble finding it other places since it tends to be more of a novelty. Even still, at $3.99 at an import store, it was worth the purchase simply to try it.

The taste? I wasn’t expecting to be excited about it, but it surprised me. There’s not enough hibiscus to overpower things, and it’s got both citrus and spice that come through. Nothing like the American bagged herbal blends I’ve tried in past. It calls for an 8-minute steeping time, which I loyally adhered to, and yet nothing tasted overdone. It was a spicy, almost grapefruit-like evening sip. Something for certain American herbals to aspire to.

More about how I found it and pics of the ‘lebkuchen’ I enjoyed it with on my full blog post: http://t.co/hZaVpzk3


it sounds good! I have found some fun teas at the eastern european grocery stores here (and they are quite cheap)


Yes, the price was interesting, considering that they have to import.

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This was the second piece of my December Obubu CSA shipment. Fresh from the minute I opened the pouch to the instant I whisked and drank it. It’s got the trademark bitter leaf taste that is, well, matcha, but it’s not so bitter or flat that it makes you want to set your cup or bowl down. Sweetest variety of matcha I’ve yet tried that wasn’t labeled as ceremonial grade. Nice emerald color, not as chalky as restaurant grades. Love it.
I was able to put some pics and more thoughts on my blog, with a picture of the yanagi bancha leaves as they were steeping (the other part of the shipment). http://bit.ly/ufFqKX
I actually brought my tin of Gokou Matcha with me to the office to enjoy as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. It’s that refreshing, at least for this matcha fan.

Geoffrey Norman

Oooo, I’ve been meaning to try this. Really fascinating story about the cultivar used to make it.


It’s good stuff, for sure!

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Still fairly new to the life-long process of learning and appreciating tea. Got into loose leaf a number of years ago after health concerns cut soda and sugared drinks from my repertoire. I’ve been blogging about and exploring tea more in-depth for the past several years and I just plain enjoy it. I keep an eye out for French tea trends as well, so if you parlez, bienvenue!

My ratings tend to fall into these categories:

I don’t bother discussing teas that I wouldn’t recommend to other folks on some level. Not worth drinking, not worth wasting time, so you won’t see many yellow light scores from me. I will, however, post if a tea is marketed as something it’s not. There are a couple of examples in my tea log.

50-70’s : Fair. Either a quality or grade issue or perhaps not suited to my personal preference. Wouldn’t turn it down if it were a gift, but wouldn’t purchase it for myself.

80’s: Good teas. Enjoyable and well-crafted, but maybe some slight room for improvement or maybe a notch below another of the same type that I’ve tried. Would buy again if the price were reasonable.

90’s: Excellent teas. My personal favorites that I’ve fallen in love with and have been surprised by.

I don’t know that I’ve ever rated a 100, which is why the 80’s and 90’s are more representative of the teas I like and would recommend. A 96 is just about perfect.



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