1221 Tasting Notes


My friend received the Solstice Tea Traders “ultimate tea sampler” but isn’t a tea person so he re-gifted it to me. This is the second mini tin from the set I’ve pulled out to work through. It’s… black tea. Not really any surprises here…. malty, bready, leafy, cardboardy, without any real defining notes. A bit astringent even with a three minute steep. Meant to be taken with milk and sugar, though that is one of the few ways I haven’t prepared it. It has made a nice coldbrew with my leftover peach syrup, and this morning I’ve added some lemon juice and honey which have provided a little more flavor. A bit underwhelming on its own but an acceptable “base.”

Flavors: Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Bread, Cardboard, Malt

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

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I pulled this out a week ago when my friend Todd was visiting for the weekend; I have chronic migraine and kept waking up with my head being uncooperative, so I was hitting it with all the things first thing in the morning, including a stronger-than-usual hit of caffeine. I think this was the only “coffee tea” in my current cupboard that wasn’t an herbal substitute to coffee and would actually have the caffeine I needed.

It’s pretty good! I have been brewing it a bit stronger than I would typically brew blacks or mates, so that combined with the coffee beans does make it a little bitter, but that bitterness also just sells the coffee flavor, which is pretty prominent. I can taste a bit of vanilla on the backend, but mostly I taste the really sharp notes of coffee bean and the roastiness of the roasted yerba mate. Very nice for a kick-in-the-pants morning, or a drizzly rainy afternoon at work.

Flavors: Bitter, Coffee, Dark Bittersweet, Nutty, Roasted, Vanilla

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

A friend recently told us that he heard from a coworker that if you run as soon as you feel a migraine starting, it will go away. he tried jumping on his treadmill, and it worked for him. The last time Ashman had a visual aura and felt one coming on, I reminded him and he immediately took the dogs for a walk/run. It worked for him, no headache although his scalp felt tender as if he had recently had one. It may only work for certain tyoes. Ihope it will continue to work for him as he has complex mograines with aura, loss of speech, tingling of hands, etc.

Mastress Alita

Interesting, physical activity aggrevates migraines for a lot of people (mine included). Caffeine, too, can help some and make things way worse for others (thankfully for me it either helps a little bit or has no affect, but doesn’t make them worse). I’ve had chronic migraine (15+ attacks a month) since I was in my teens, and they used to be unlivable. A new class of medications that came out in 2019 (CGRP inhibitors) has actually given me some quality of life back, and now I have a more manageable number of attacks and the attacks don’t last as long and not at the same intensity. The bad part is the medication is extremely expensive and hard to get, I have a battle between insurance and Patient Assistance Programs every year to stay on it. I hope the best for his migraine journey, it is crazy how many different symptoms they have on the body (once I woke up with my hearing lost in one ear completely for 24 hours!)


Caffeine seems to help him, also.

Sofia Vaz

as a fellow migraine-haver, I feel you!
I’ve been waiting for a year to have an appointment with a neurologist, so at the moment I can’t really prevent them, and instead deal with them with a strong NSAID whenever they appear, as was ordered by my family doctor
if I get them earlier in the day, coffee also tends to help me! It’s cute how these little tricks are so universal among us :)
when the migraines are milder, eating really greasy and salty foods also helps — I’ve found that McDonald’s fries have the best grease and salt ratio for me

I hope you don’t have to fight with your insurance and PAP too much; it sucks that you even have to do that :( sometimes, I wish there was a simulator to make them feel the pain we feel so they’d understand how vital treatment is

by now, your migraine is (hopefully) gone, and if it isn’t, please go rest! I usually just lie on the couch watching Arrested Development with a very low volume and most lights turned off, you could do the same with the original Alita! :D


My neurologist suggested some supplements that haven’t helped and wanted to put me on 900mg of gabapentin daily, the current cure all medication. I was on 100mg daily already and hated it, so I opted not to go up to 900 and had to wean myself off the 100mg. I hope you get better results with your neurologist. I’ll have to try running to greasy salty foods the next time I feel one coming on! I’m willing to try almost anything (besides all the gabapentin).

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My friend received the Solstice Tea Traders “ultimate tea sampler” but isn’t a tea person so he re-gifted it to me. This was the only tea in the set I don’t like, so I decided to finish it off first, by making my own Moroccan Mint cold brew with it… just 5g of the gunpowder and a single teabag of Twinings peppermint left in a liter of water overnight. Which was fine and didn’t have the tobacco notes I find so unappealing in gunpowder green. Not sure how this would’ve tasted straight up, but as a Moroccan Mint base, it was fine.

Flavors: Grass, Vegetal

Iced 8 min or more 5 g 32 OZ / 946 ML

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drank Mango Ice Cream by 52teas
1221 tasting notes

The dry aroma of this tea really does come off as a mango ice cream… not a fruit sorbet, but a creamy vanilla ice cream with fresh mango. Steeped up, the mango flavor is pretty forthright initially and tastes a bit green, but as the tea cools the vanilla notes come out more and the mango sweetens up a lot. The black tea base is mildly malty and a little woody. The total composition is very tasty; I could probably do with even more mango flavor, but the more gentle and sweet-leaning flavor is nice too. I definitely see the ice cream inspiration.

Flavors: Cream, Fruity, Malty, Mango, Stonefruit, Sweet, Vanilla, Woody

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

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The name on this one is very apt… all gentle spices and warm, rich maple. This is the last maple-flavored tea in my current stash, so I’m sad to see it go, but it is delicious. It is the most prominent flavor note, with the spices playing a softer role. Of the spices, the cinnamon is the most dominant and paired with the maple really gives indulgent breakfast feels. Using up the very bottom of the package, the nutmeg is really popping, too. Package recommends 3.5g, but I prefer 5g. Cozy indeed!

Flavors: Cinnamon, Maple, Nutmeg, Spices, Sweet

205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 5 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

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I’d sort of forgotten I’d bought a big bag of this Greek Mountain Tea and it’s gotten a bit old now, so I’ve been working my way through it. I started with some hot evening cuppas but quickly switched to cold brew as I’m finding the flavor especially refreshing. It has flavors of apple, mint, basil, and citrus, in a very herbaceous way, and it’s really easy to drink ice cold. I did find the flowers were a bit messy and hard to strain when I left them free-floating in my mason jar, so now I fill two fillable teabags to contain the fluffy stuff while it steeps. It’s a little annoying that it floats on top of the water even when really soaking it, but the flavor the next morning is still very nice.

Flavors: Apple, Basil, Hay, Herbaceous, Lemongrass, Mint

Iced 8 min or more 2 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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drank Plum Pryanik by 52teas
1221 tasting notes

Made a warm cuppa of this yesterday night using 4g of leaf to a 350ml cup but the flavor wasn’t as strong as I was hoping for, so tonight I used 6g for a 500ml teapot with a long “leave the bag in” steep. The deep cinnamon and citrus aroma is very pleasant. The steeped tea is a very pretty red color on the pour, but the flavor still doesn’t feel as strong as I’d like… I think the problem is that the color and aroma remind me of hibiscus spice Christmas blends (which I really love and drank a lot of over a two week course of sinus infection) but this is a honeybush base which is just a more thin mouthfeel. The flavor is a bit similar, with a strong sweet cinnamon taste (with woody undertones, not like candy), but the citrus note is much stronger. The lemongrass really pops, very citrusy with a slight hay-like note. The woody and peppery notes of the honeybush blend very well with the cinnamon and lemongrass, so that pepper flavor doesn’t feel quite so out of place here as I get with other honeybush blends. I don’t taste plum, but that’s one of those tea flavors like cranberry that I never seem able to taste. I also have never even heard of a pryanik prior to seeing this tea’s name. (Idaho is not exactly a place of very diverse food offerings… We do have fry sauce, though!)

Flavors: Cinnamon, Citrus, Hay, Lemon, Pepper, Woody

205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 6 g 17 OZ / 500 ML

Fry sauce? One particular recipe or a cornucopia of various formulas?


I had to look up pryanik. And is that fry sauce like Canes sauce? Boom boom sauce?


Sorry for the thinner mouthfeel, I know hibiscus would have added that – but I no longer use hibiscus in any of my blends as there is too great a chance of peanut cross contamination.


For those who are unfamiliar with pryanik – it’s a Russian/Ukrainian holiday treat – like a spiced honey cookie often with a fruit filling.

Mastress Alita

“Fry sauce” is an Idaho/Utah thing… typically it’s just 50/50 ketchup/mayo though some places have their own varieties (I quite like ones using BBQ). You ask for “fry sauce” here, you get it, pre-mixed. Any other state I visit they go, “You mean ketchup?” and then I have to ask for a side of mayo and mix it myself at the table. :-P


For Ashman, every Friday is Fry Day and I mix mayo, ketchup, Heinz sweet chili sauce, a tiny bit of sriracha, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper.

For our version of yum yum sauce, I mix mayo, Sweet Baby Ray’s bbq sauce, garlic powder, a few drops of rice vinegar, and a pinch of sugar. So that might be more like your fry sauce.

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I wanted a green tea this morning considering the day (Happy St. Paddy’s! It’s my turn in the March Steepster Birthday Madness today. Happy birthday to all the rest of you tea-drinking March babies!)

The dry leaf smelled fruity and spicy and hit that certain mix of fruit and spice that read to my nose as bubblegum (which is not a bad thing for me, I love pink bubblegum aroma and flavor). The aroma from the brewed tea doesn’t quite it that, though… the apple comes out more and it smells like baked sweet cinnamon apples.

I get the apple cider reference… the flavor is appley with a hint of tartness (I could do with even more bite, but my favorite apples are tart green varieties) and I can pick out the cinnamon and allspice (oddly enough, not the clove) adding a very mild and gentle spice. Some sips I get that bubblegum effect, but it is fleeting and doesn’t happen every sip. There is a nice grassy green undertone that works well with the flavors. Very enjoyable cuppa!

Flavors: Allspice, Apple, Bubblegum, Cinnamon, Fruity, Spices, Sweet, Warm Grass

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

Happy birthday!


Hope it was a great day, from the top o’the morning on down!


Happy Birthday! I hope you had a wonderful day!


Happy belated birthday!


Good choice for St Paddy’s and your birthday!

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I’ve prepared this tea hot and plain a few times and enjoyed every cup; the strawberry flavor is rich and a little candy sweet, with more subtle sweet vanilla undertones. The honeybush does have that peppery note, but otherwise is very smooth and doesn’t give off any medicinal flavors, which I sometimes have issues with when berry flavors are paired with rooibos.

I debated stretching a few more cups out of the available leaf packet or doubling up for an indulgent latte, and this morning the latte won out. I used sweet vanilla almond milk and that has really brought out a “strawberry ice cream” vibe. The strawberry is still there but the vanilla notes are amplified and the drink is really creamy. Indulgent, indeed!

Flavors: Candy, Cream, Fruity, Pepper, Strawberry, Sweet, Vanilla

205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 4 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

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I’ve been working through a bad chest cold all week (I’m suspecting a bad case of bronchitis, but I haven’t had the time or money to get that confirmed) so I’ve been drinking TONS of tea. I went through my entire 100g tin of T2’s “Mulled Wine Magic” over the week and have instant regrets, because they are gone now and I’m too tired and out of it to go looking for a hibiscus chai spice blend replacement that ships from the US. So then I decided to turn to this tea, only to discover I only had a single teabag left. Siiiiiiiigh. Where did all the tea go?!

I always expect elderberry teas to be more like hibiscus teas for some reason… dark and syrupy berry. They never are and then I have to reassess my expectations. I do like this though. The echinacea is the main flavor and it’s such a hard one for me to describe… It’s a little floral, but leans more on the herbaceous side than the flowery side. There is a bit of a minty flavor to the tea but it is not strongly menthol and doesn’t overpower the other flavors. I don’t actually taste anything I’d attribute to “berry” or get any fruity notes from it. It is very licorice root sweet, which I know would be a turn-off for many, but I like licorice root and it is greatly appreciated now while by body is trying to cough my lungs straight out of my ribcage. Sweet, minty, floral, could do a lot worse for a sick tea, but the flavor is probably not for everyone.

Flavors: Floral, Herbaceous, Licorice Root, Mint, Sweet

205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

I am in that small group of people that doesn’t mind licorice root. I shouldn’t have much of it because of my blood pressure but I generally like the way it tastes.


Hope you start feeling better very soon!

Mastress Alita

Mmm, sweet tasty expectorant…


Feel better soon!


Feel better! My wife just recovered from pneumonia…definitely need to not allow it to go too far without checking.

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Hi! I’m Sara, a middle-aged librarian living in southern Idaho, USA. I’m a big ol’ sci-fi/fantasy/anime geek that loves fandom conventions, coloring books, simulation computer games, Japanese culture, and cats. Proud genderqueer asexual (she/they) and supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. I’m also a chronic migraineur. As a surprise to no one, I’m a helpless tea addict with a tea collecting and hoarding problem! (It still baffles me how much tea I can cram into my little condo!) I enjoy trying all sorts of teas… for me tea is a neverending journey!

Favorite Flavors:

I love sampling a wide variety of teas! For me the variety is what makes the hobby of tea sampling so fun! While I enjoy trying all different types of teas (pure teas, blends, tisanes), these are some flavors/ingredients I enjoy:
-Sweet/licorice root/stevia
-Bergamot (in moderation)

Disliked Flavors:

There are not many flavors or ingredients that I don’t like. These include:
-Bananas/banana flavoring
-Hemp/CBD teas
-Smoke-scented teas/heavy smoke flavors (migraine trigger)
-Perfumey teas/extremely heavy floral aromas (migraine trigger)
-Gingko biloba (migraine trigger)
-Chamomile (used in blends as a background note/paired with stronger flavors is okay)
-Extremely spicy/heated teas
-Medicinal flavors/Ginseng
-Metallic flavors
-Overly strong artificial flavorings

With the exception of bananas and migraine triggers, I’ll pretty much try any tea at least once!

Steeping Parameters:

I drink tea in a variety of ways! For hot brews, I mostly drink my teas brewed in the western style without additions, and for iced tea, I drink teas mostly brewed in the cold brew style without additions. Occassionally I’ll change that up. I use the https://octea.ndim.space/#/ app for water-to-tea ratios and use steep times to my preferences.

My Rating Scale:

90-100 – Top tier tea! These teas are among my personal favorites, and typically I like to keep them stocked in my cupboards at all times, if possible!

70-89 – These are teas that I personally found very enjoyable, but I may or may not feel inclined to keep them in stock.

50-69 – Teas that fall in this range I enjoyed, but found either average, lacking in some way, or I’ve had a similar tea that “did it better.”

21-49 – Teas in this range I didn’t enjoy, for one reason or another. I may or may not finish them off, depending on their ranking, and feel no inclination to restock them.

20-1 – Blech! My Tea Hall of Shame. These are the teas that most likely saw the bottom of my garbage can, because I’d feel guilty to pass them onto someone else.

Note that I only journal a tea once, not every time I drink a cup of it. If my opinion of a tea drastically changes since my original review, I will journal the tea again with an updated opinion and change my rating. Occassionally I revisit a tea I’ve reviewed before after a year or more has passed.


My Cupboard on Steepster reflects teas that I have sampled and logged for review, and is not used as an inventory for teas I currently own at the present moment. An accurate and up-to-date listing of my current tea inventory can be viewed here: https://tinyurl.com/xjt9ptx3 . I am open to tea trades (within the United States only!) at this time. Note that I will not trade teas that I currently have in a quantity less than 50g (samplers, 1oz packages, etc.) or any teas that are currently still sealed/unopened in my cupboard.

Contact Info:

Feel free to send me a Steepster PM, or alternatively, check the website URL section below; it goes to a contact form that will reach my personal e-mail.


Idaho, United States



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