730 Tasting Notes


A breakfast build with some lemon this morning! Prepared the whole sample in 500ml as that worked well for my black tea yesterday, which came out so smoothly. Since I’m taking it to work in my Contigo thermos (I love this thermos, it is lined in ceramic so it doesn’t change the flavor of the tea, but has steel on the outside so it keeps it toasty for a long time… usually I have to wait a while for it to cool enough to drink!) I currently just have it sitting here steaming with the lid off, taunting me, while I wiff it. It smells very malty, with some subtle cinnamon and autumn leaf, but I’m getting that slightly smoky/citrusy note that I pick up in Chinese teas that reminds me of umami sauces. Which is odd, because of all the black teas in the blend, Chinese blacks are the only ones missing, har!

The flavor is mostly the notes I’m picking up on the scent: malt, bread, spices (hints of cinnamon and pepper), a subtle smokiness, a slight woodiness, and a sharp and pithy citrus lemon. It’s a pleasant breakfast blend! Strong, but not too abrasive. I imagine it’ll go far to get me through a Friday morning of book mending.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Citrus, Lemon Zest, Malt, Pepper, Smoke, Smooth, Spices, Umami, Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 4 g 17 OZ / 500 ML
Cameron B.

Love all of the Fog Cutters this morning! Autumn leaf is a good one, that approaches what I think of as “tea-ish” lol.

Mastress Alita

My friend just uses the “Tea” option under “Flavors” on Steepster, much to my chagrin. :-D

Cameron B.

Flavors: Tea. Nailed it! :P


You just got that thermos, right? I’ve been eyeing the ceramic lined options. I had a cup of tea yesterday that I’m convinced was tainted by the metal thermos.

Mastress Alita

I did, and I haven’t had any complaints yet. It’s a Contigo ceramic-lined thermos and holds two cups (16 oz/500ml) and it is PIPING hot for a bit (like, undrinkable hot) so I try to brew my tea 30 minutes before work and let it sit with the lid off before capping it and taking it with me. I make my tea around 8:30ish and have found it is starting to go “luke warm” around 3 pm. My old thermos was a plastic one and my tea was completely cold before my noon lunch break, and I found the plastic made certain teas taste funky.

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Brewed this as my evening tea today (the full sample, which weighed 4.5g, in a 500ml teapot). I have been a little wary of decaf teas because I’ve always heard they taste bad, so normally I stick to herbals after my caffeine cut-off hour. But lately I’ve found myself craving black teas after work, which is past the caffeine cut-off point, especially since most of my “desserty” teas are on black bases. So I’ve been curious about looking into decaf teas…

The brewed pot has a very nice vanilla aroma… often vanilla flavorings came off with a coconut scent/flavor to me but this smells distinctly vanilla to me. The tea is malty with a slight brassy note, but otherwise this is a very smooth cup and sweet cup. I’m getting notes of cinnamon raisin bread, honey, vanilla, and cream.

If this doesn’t impact my sleep (I know decaf tea still has some small amounts present) then I would definitely be willing to stock this as a black tea that I can actually drink during the evening hours that still hits that “sweet tooth” urge as well!

Flavors: Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Cream, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Raisins, Smooth, Sweet, Vanilla

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 4 g 17 OZ / 500 ML
Cameron B.

I was pleasantly surprised by this one as well! :)


Is it a bit like Harney’s Vanilla Comoro, which is also decaf?

Cameron B.

I’ve only had Vanilla Comoro once or twice, but I think it’s more of a creamy vanilla flavor? Whereas I found this more woody, like a good vanilla extract.

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After deciding that my sample last night probably would’ve been slightly better if I had done in it 350ml instead of 500ml, that is how I decided to brew this cup. The brewed tea has a very thick, sticky-sweet toffee aroma that is quite appealing. But this day has been hectic and I had to (quickly!) brew it on my lunch break and dump it into a travel mug to take back to work with me, so now I’m (very impatiently) stuck waiting for it to be cool enough in the mug to drink without severely burning my tongue…

Later. I can finally drink this, and it’s nice. A deep burnt sugar/toffee sort of flavor. It’s just a smidgeon brisk, so it probably would’ve been fine with a touch more water, but it is fine since the sweeter flavor of the tea sort of balances out the bit of astringency I’m getting off the base. When I’m not in such a terrible rush, I’ll weigh the leaf properly to get a good leaf-to-water ratio going forward. Today, I’m lucky I managed to brew anything at lunch at all.

This has been one of those days, and at least this should make the afternoon a little more pleasant.

Flavors: Astringent, Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Malt, Toffee, Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 5 g 350 OZ / 10350 ML

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Brewed this as my evening tisane, the full sample packet in a small 500ml teapot. Just left the teabag is, as I tend to do with my evening tisanes.

The light orangish colored brew smells a bit herbaceous and slightly cinnamony, with strong citrus notes as well as some tropical fruitiness. The flavor is strongly orange, with some citrus tang and a very pithy orange peel vibe. There is a sweeter fruity note as well, I’m getting a subtle touch of mango and stonefruit, but it is definitely playing second fiddle to the strong citrus orange. I love the green rooibos base and wish it were utilized more! A lot of times fruity/citrusy flavors like these used on red rooibos end up bringing out a “medicinal” note in the rooibos to me, which I don’t get when those flavors are paired with green rooibos. It’s mellow, slightly grassy/hay-like, and just a touch woodsy (which I think with the flavors here I’m reading more as a cinnamon taste for some reason!)

It’s a pleasant evening cuppa. If I had more, I’d probably enjoy it cold brewed.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Citrus, Herbaceous, Hot hay, Mango, Orange, Orange Zest, Stonefruits, Sweet

205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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Got this as a free sachet sampler in a recent order. Was in the mood for an afternoon with the Earl and remembered I had this and decided to brew it. 205F, 350ml mug, 3 minutes, straight up.

I can definitely smell the cream wafting off the cup. The bergamot is coming off a bit on the lemon/lime side to me (often I get grapefruit in flavor/aroma!) which is making me think of a citrus dessert (lemon creme?) The berg is presenting pretty lightly in the cup; I am getting mostly a vanilla flavor, followed by a citrus zest-tasting note that is more subdued compared to the sweetness.

This would probably be a good “Stepping Stone” EG or for anyone that prefers a lighter touch on the berg. I’ve built up quite a taste for it now, but when through that phase myself (T2’s French Earl Grey helping me along that journey). It’s nice, but not a favorite among EGs. Not even cream ones. But if another teabag of this ended up my way, I certainly wouldn’t be upset about it!

Flavors: Citrus, Citrus Zest, Cream, Lemon, Lime, Smooth, Sweet, Vanilla

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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I rarely do a review for the same tea again (my original post on this is here: https://steepster.com/mastressalita/posts/396293 ) but after attempting this tea (stovetop style) a few times over the weekend I think I’ve finally perfected how I like it. The first time I made it, I had trouble getting it quite right, too. Since past and present Sara have the memory of a goldfish, it stands to reason future Sara will too, so this is for you, future Sara!

1) Use plain oat milk, not vanilla. Otherwise it’s way too sweet.
2) For a 16 oz. cup: use 2 cups oat milk and 3 heaping regular ol’ kitchen teaspoon globby scoops tea for a more “mild” profile; for slightly more kick, use 1 cup oat milk/1 cup water and 4 heaping teaspoon scoops of tea mix.
3) While simmering the tea, DO NOT BLINK. BLINK AND YOU DIE. (Or at least your chai will boil over that quickly… but I’m still sure Weeping Angels are involved somehow…)
4) Don’t even think about trying to use your gravity well infuser as a strainer. Just don’t do it. Goopy residue will coat the fine mesh and you’ll never get the tea out and have to use a standard strainer anyway.

It’s a nice chai, albeit a bit finicky because of the goopy honeyed leaf. Having tried a sticky chai now, I don’t think I’d ever get one again, since it is much easier to measure the leaf consistently and get more balanced scoops with dry leaf, and I can always add my own honey to the stove mixture to taste anyway. It has been a bit interesting that every cup I make seems to be an entirely different dominant spice flavor, likely due to just what happened to be stuck in my clumpy scoops that time; yesterday, I had an extremely fennel/anise cup that tasted like melted black licorice (I love black licorice, so I was fine with that!) while today, I’m not getting that at all, instead it tastes very cinnamon-sweet.

Flavors: Cardamon, Cinnamon, Clove, Licorice, Spices, Spicy, Sweet

Boiling 8 min or more 3 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

Chaiwala makes a sticky chai that is awesome, albeit not too sticky which makes measuring it easier. It’s my favorite chai.

Also, I laughed really hard at this review so I am super glad you shared it. Thank you.

Mastress Alita

Ah. This one is frustratingly sticky, which adds to my frustration of trying to get a good and consistent brew. I guess I just figured all sticky chai would have the same issues! It doesn’t taste bad, just a lot more of a pain to scoop/measure/get a consistent flavor compared to dry leaf chais I’ve tried. I know I tried sticky chais by Prana Chai at a tea festival and liked the taste of those, too (especially their mint one).

Tiffany :)

This is the first sticky chai I’ve ever had (I have chaiwala from the Toronto Tea Festival I need to try and a few of B&B flavored sticky chai that I need to get around to). Thank you for sharing this review I enjoyed it (like VariaTEA) as well :)


Your review also made me laugh. :)


For simmering milk, enameled cast iron was a game changer. It heats milk in a way that allows you to blink and not die, at least with the continuous heating of a gas range. Nor will the milk scald on the bottom of the pot.

Tiffany :)

Tell me more about this “enameled cast iron”? What does this mean? :)


Tiffany: it’s cast iron cookware coated in enamel paint. Here’s a good thread about different types of cookware: https://www.chowhound.com/post/enameled-cast-iron-stainless-steel-ceramic-clay-782038 If my housemate hadn’t already had an enameled cast iron dutch oven for slow-cooking acidic soups and stews, I never would have invested the money in one. They can be very expensive. Costco out here in California has a 2-pack for $69 right now.

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This is the free sample that came with my advent order. Figured since it’s such a small package and I fear losing it I may as well just drink it up this morning. I actually weighed the tea (surprisingly, I actually weigh most of my tea rather than using imperial “teaspoons”), and it weighs 1.95g — I usually use 2.5g for a 12 oz/350ml cup of tea (up to 3g if I’m trying to use up a bit of leaf and it’s a tea that doesn’t tend to go super bitter on me). Using my favorite leaf-to-ratio calculator, OCTea [ https://octea.ndim.space/#/ ], dropping it to 8 oz/250ml seemed a safe choice. So hopefully the cuppa will balance out correctly! 205F water, 3 minute steep.

The package just said “black tea” but after brewing and smelling that distinct piney smoked aroma, they must have used Lapsang Souchong. I tend to have issues with that tea and avoid it as it is a migraine trigger; occassionally if it is used with a subtle hand with enough other flavors I’m okay (I’ve had some 52Teas blends that worked for me!) so we’ll see… It is a strong enough aroma I’m having a hard time making out any other aromas in the cup, which usually isn’t a good sign for me (it really does have to be subtle, if my head thinks there is smoke in the air, it flips the migraine switch…)

Honestly, I don’t mind the flavor; the lapsang is coming on the most strongly, but I’m getting a strong pine flavor that I really enjoy and the smoke isn’t coming off as a burnt or charred flavor like I get in some teas. But it is still such a strong flavor I’m having a hard time tasting anything else in the cup. I assume that the rooibos (though I can’t taste it) is at least cutting the intensity of the lapsang a bit which is probably why I’m able to tolerate this, and I am getting a little hint of the spices left on my tongue after the sip. But that vanila/walnut/chocolate flavor the tea is supposed to have? That is just impossible to taste against pine smoke. At least for me.

Pleasant, toned back enough that I am not inhaling smoke and going to get a headache, but not a flavor I’d care to have in my cupboard.

Flavors: Pine, Smoke, Spices

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 8 OZ / 250 ML
Martin Bednář

I can imagine drinking this tea somewhere in mountain hut after some long hike. Seems interesting for me :)

Cameron B.

Seems an odd choice for a free sample, given smoked teas are so polarizing…


I kind of see what they were going for here, but yeah… I feel like lapsang should just be drunk plain because the smokiness will overpower everything else. I have to keep it away from all my other blends in my cabinet because it will make them all taste like smoke just from sitting near them!

Mastress Alita

I’ve had a few flavored blends where it worked… I think the key is it was used extremely sparingly so the ratio of it compared to all the other ingredients was so minimal that it added a bit of smokiness but the other tea leaf/ingredients still carried the flavor. I’m assuming the rooibos must have held the flavoring here? Even though there was a higher amount of rooibos to lapsang (from what I could tell in this small sample) it was not nearly enough of a ratio difference for the lapsang to not completely whallop out any flavoring that might have been in the other leaf.

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Black Tea Friday! One of my 2017 52Teas blends, still in a sealed pouch. Until today.

Brewed 3g in 350ml 205F for 3 minutes, and let the cup cool just slightly. The tea smells incredibly sweet and creamy… I do get caramel, but also that coconut note I seem to get sometimes from vanilla/cream/cake flavorings. The base tea is quite smooth with some nice bread, raisin, and honey notes, with a sweet flavor filling out on the tongue. It tastes of burnt sugar with a bit of vanilla toward the end of the sip. I never seem to pick out any cream cheese sort of flavors from cheesecake teas, but I’m quite satisfied with the sweet dark caramel/burnt sugar note of the cup.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Coconut, Cream, Honey, Raisins, Smooth, Vanilla

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

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Decided to brew this sampler tonight after my Thanksgiving tradition of ordering gobs of Thai takeout (typically on the Wednesday before when things are open) and then reheating the leftovers, which last me days, for dinner.

This is one of those “turns blue because butterfly pea flower” herbal blends. I don’t really care about “color novelty” in tea, but I actually like the taste of butterfly pea flower and will drink it straight (I particularly like it the traditional way with some lemon juice and honey). I’m mostly used to it paired with citrus, though this is a minty/fruity blend. My blue cuppa smells heavily minty, with a touch of an herbaceous element, but I’m not getting any fruitiness in aroma. And honestly… even though there are blueberries and blackberries in the blend, I am not tasting them either. I am getting a very nice tasting mint tea, with a fresh and tingly sensation from the mints, with the spearmint being the most dominant minty flavor. I am also tasting the ginger in the blend, but it isn’t really spicy; more, it is adding to some of the earthy notes I’m getting in the tea, as well as a slight warming sensation at the back of the throat. It’s actually interesting, as I’m getting a cooling feeling more on my tongue, and a warming more on my throat… despite being conflicting, it isn’t unpleasant. Usually butterfly pea flowers have a sort of vegetal flavor to me, but I’m not getting that, either… instead, I’m getting more of an “earthiness” beneath the mint that reminds me a bit of echinacea or tulsi.

This is actually a nice “I’ve gorged myself” chaser considering the mint and ginger, which are my two main “help my poor abused GI system” teas. In the end, the butterfly pea flower really is just a “color” gimmick as I don’t think it’s doing much of anything for the blend… just a way to try to make a mint blend “more interesting,” really. But if you like mint, I mean… it doesn’t really need to be interesting?

Anyway, I’m fine with it, mostly because I’m not adverse to pea flower flavor. But since pea flower can be one of those easily aversive flavors, really no reason to recommend this over any other mint / mint and ginger / tummy tea sort of blend.

Flavors: Earth, Ginger, Herbaceous, Mint, Peppermint, Spearmint

205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

Our day before Thanksgiving tradition used to involve chili dogs and Frito pies from Stogey’s Coney Island (a local dive), but two of us can’t handle that any more. We did slightly more civilized Mexican take-out Wednesday instead. Sounds like you chose a good antidote.

Mastress Alita

I see no point in cooking a big meal when I live alone. I also have always hated cooking. This has been my “thing” for quite some time now, heh.

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Another of my 2017 tea haul that I’m trying to work through. Sampler size, still sealed (boy was it ever, I didn’t think I’d ever get the zip at the top of the pouch to come undone!), a First Flush May 2017 harvest with a May 2020 best by. I brewed western with my breakfast-for-lunch, 3.5g leaf to 500ml in 205F water with a 3 minute steep.

The wet leaves have a lovely aroma of sour fruits, lemongrass, and meadow flowers. The tea liquor is a bright, light orange color, and the aroma from my cup is an herbaceous sort of florality (dandelion?), rose, hay, strong citrus (lemongrass and orange zest), and minerals.

Mmm… the tea is very light, citrusy, and floral, and extremely smooth. The aromas are presenting in the flavors as well, as I’m tasting meadow flowers/dandelion, subtle sweet rose, lemongrass, lemon and orange zest, and a bit of malt and hay. I’m just not tasting the minerality that came out on the nose. Probably not the sort of strong, full-bodied tea one would associate with breakfast, but a lovely afternoon cup.

Flavors: Citrus, Dandelion, Floral, Flowers, Herbaceous, Hot hay, Lemon Zest, Lemongrass, Malt, Orange Zest, Rose, Smooth

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 17 OZ / 500 ML

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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 asexual 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
-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.

Currently Sipping Down: What-cha teas, Rishi teas

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.

New Teas Tried for 2020: 130
Sipdown Count for 2020: 151


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://docs.google.com/document/d/1AvGT1XwgJUTErt3zhjpHbXf6HNS3k_Ym85zoHJPmhX4/edit?usp=sharing . A downloadable spreadsheet version with more detailed information can be acquired here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1D2J0sUMNItRsf0jBRBR6XDFUimm60f0o/view?usp=sharing . I am currently on a tea trading/ordering hiatus to get my collection under control! I cannot participate in any tea boxes, group orders, tea exchanges, or accept any tea gifts at this point in time. If there is something on my spreadsheet that I have in large quantity (50g or higher) that you would like to sample, feel free to contact me about it, as I am open to limited gifting (USA only!)

Contact Info:

The Steepster PM system has been broken for some time. If you need to get ahold of me, 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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