1220 Tasting Notes


Last night I had all the telltale signs of a sinusy cold coming on — pain between the eyes, drippy nose, horse throat, exhausted by 7 pm — so the tea I decided to bring to work today is one I picked up at the Tea Chai Te teashop in Portland on vacation last spring when the rainy Portland weather was also getting to my throat. I’m a very “spice-sensitive” person and just looking at the leaf is a bit intimidating, as it /looks/ very ginger-heavy, but a tea full of Vitamin C-rich hibiscus, rosehips, and citrus, and spicy throat-soothing ginger and licorice root was exactly what I was feeling.

I’m always amused when I brew hibiscus teas at work, because they come out purple instead of red (and I use the filtered water here! I seriously have to wonder about the water quality at the library sometimes…) Color aside, though the tea does have a nice heat to it, it wasn’t near as off-putting as I was fearing. I can’t taste the licorice root, but I think it adds enough natural sweetness to help tame some of the spiciness, and the hibiscus and rose hip give the tea a rich, tart base which grounds it a lot as well (and I have one of those tongues that takes tart flavors very well). There is a distinct orangey citrusy flavor to the base, followed by a burst of gingery heat. It’s a bit like an orange version of a lemon ginger tea, but more punchy due to the hibiscus, and the ginger notes are a lot stronger than I tend to find in most lemon gingers. It’s a bit spicy for me to drink this as a daily drinker, but this is a good, strong “throat tea” for a cold. Chock full of Vitamin C and herbs good for a sensitive throat.

Flavors: Citrus, Earth, Ginger, Hibiscus, Orange, Spicy, Tart

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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This is a light, refreshing tea. I enjoy my fruity greens when they don’t have a thick, heavy, overwhelming taste, and this tea does that nicely. It has a somewhat softer touch of citrus than most lemon teas, and the sweet pineapple flavors take off some of the tangy edge. The tea is very smooth, and I pick up just a hint of a minty note in the aftertaste. As a warm tea, it is a pleasant enough sweeter lemon tea, but I definitely prefer this tea as an iced brew; cold brewing the tea gives it a very crisp, clean, refreshing flavor, and I really enjoy the citrus/pineapple flavor combination.

Flavors: Citrus, Lemon Zest, Mint, Pineapple, Sweet, Tangy

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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This is a tea I was gifted from an online friend; she said it was her favorite tea and she wanted to share it! What I received came from the Encore Teas tea shop in Olympia, Washington, but looking at the ingredients in the blend, I believe they wholesale the blend from Davidson’s Tea. It is one of the nicest of the “lemon ginger” variety of teas I’ve tried. It has a very full lemon flavor, and I quickly found that I much prefer the rich lemony brew of lemon myrtle to the more commonly used lemongrass. I also like that this tea isn’t too ginger-heavy; there is a nice warmth, but I’ve tasted a lot of blends that just feel way too strong on the ginger notes, while I prefer a nice lemon flavor with the ginger being a little more subdued. This blend also adds tulsi, and there is a very /slight/ pleasant sort of cooling, slightly minty flavor beneath the lemon. It is very subtle, but adds a little depth to what would otherwise be a simple lemon ginger tea. It comes together really nicely. This is also my go-to tea for blending with my Headache Tea, which is so ginger-heavy I find the flavor of it a bit unpalatable, but it is one of those herbal blends that is really great for my chronic migraine condition. The lemon flavor in this is so rich that adding a teaspoon with my Headache Tea nicely masks the “earthy herbal” flavors and also calms down some of the ginger notes in that tea. It’s my “spoonful of sugar” that helps the medicine tea go down, so it’s very useful, too!

Full review: https://teatimetuesdayreviews.wordpress.com/2017/04/18/tea16/

Flavors: Citrus, Ginger, Lemon, Mint, Spicy

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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These instant Thai tea packets are such a guilty pleasure. I know, I know… (Instant tea? That’s like, a step lower than bagged tea! Burn the witch!) Hey, even I was skeptical! I am a huge fan of iced Thai tea when I go to Thai restaurants, and an online friend who enjoys these gave me one last year to review on my blog. I was certain it would be pretty subpar, but despite being essentially like an instant cocoa packet of “just add hot water and stir” to get a drink that tastes like Thai tea… I really liked it! I had never even tried the drink warm before, and found it so rich, sweet, and creamy!

When this winter rolled around, I kept thinking back to this stuff. I actually missed it. I live in an area that doesn’t have much cultural diversity, so something like this is hard to come by locally. So I finally broke down and ordered some of these packets online. Now I’m sitting down with my first cuppa of this instant Thai tea since last April. It is a really relaxing thick, warm, creamy drink, and I’m really enjoying this before bed. It really reminds me of a vanilla cocoa; it has such a sweet, creamy vanilla flavor, with a hot cocoa mouthfeel.

Does it hold up to actual Thai tea? Of course not (I still plan to try to get some Thai tea leaf and learn to prepare that with some fresh condensed milk on top at some point!). It doesn’t really taste of the actual tea in Thai tea, but rather has taken the flavorings, sweeteners, and condensed milk elements from the drink to make a delectable hot indulgent cocoa-like dessert drink that would appeal to sweet-tooths (and I unabashedly fit in that category). I find it entirely enjoyable for what it is, and will likely keep guiltily enjoying these packets for some time to come!

Full review: https://teatimetuesdayreviews.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/tea17/

Flavors: Cream, Creamy, Sweet, Thick, Vanilla

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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I received a free eco-pyramid sachet teabag of this tea in an Art of Tea order. I enjoyed this spin on a lemon ginger tea; I’ve never had one using a rooibos/honeybush base, and the sweet flavor of those teas gives the whole tea a much sweeter profile than I’m used to with lemon ginger teas, which I found very pleasant. The citrusy lemon flavor was still quite noticeable, but the ginger had become much more subdued thanks to the sweeter rooibos/honeybush flavor of the tea (and I’m more of a fan of ginger in moderation, so as far as I’m concerned, this was an improvement). If you don’t like the taste of rooibos and honeybush it is quite prominent in this blend and you’ll probably be better off with a traditional lemon ginger herbal, but otherwise, if you like lemon ginger teas and want to try one with a sweeter edge to it, I’d highly recommend giving this a try!

Full review: https://teatimetuesdayreviews.wordpress.com/2017/04/18/tea16/

Flavors: Citrus, Ginger, Lemon, Rooibos, Sweet

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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This is one of my favorite peach teas. It has a rich peach flavor, with a lot of fruity flavor notes. There is a bit of a subtle citrus-orange flavor beneath the peach in the aftertaste. I prefer to drink the tea sans sweetener as the tea has a lot of natural sweetness, but do find that adding just a touch tends to bring out some very subtle berry notes in the tea, which I didn’t really notice otherwise. The green rooibos is a nice base which is very light and takes the fruit flavors well; there are no lingering grassy or vegetative flavors like you might find in a similar green tea fruit blend. This is a great caffeine-free option for a strong peach-flavored sweet tea. It also makes a great iced tea! I find I can’t stand red rooibos iced (I love it warm, but something about icing it brings out a certain flavor to my palate that is cough syrupy to me!) but I have no problem at all with green rooibos as an iced drink, and this blend is very refreshing as an iced tea!

Full review: https://teatimetuesdayreviews.wordpress.com/2017/08/08/tea32/

Flavors: Berry, Fruity, Orange, Peach, Sweet

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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Dinner is finished, it’s time to switch to dessert, and since my kettle was already set to “keep warm” at the temperature for green tea, I decided to try this one out, which I got as an extra sampler from tea-sipper inside a treasure trove cupboard sale of discontinued Bluebird teas! Thanks tea-sipper! I /think/ this may be my first dessert blend using a green tea base… My green tea blends tend to be fruity, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one go the “sweet and decadent” route, which makes me extremely curious!

As an American, I have never had this British dessert… I don’t even know what it looks like. So my brain has nothing to connect what flavors or aromas should be associated with the treat, so this should prove to be an interesting experience! To me the dry leaf smells a bit sweet, and I get some hints of caramel and vanilla in the aroma. Brewed up, the aroma is much more pronounced and /very/ pleasant! The tea has a very creamy mouthfeel, and I’m surprised the base is sencha because it reminds me more of a buttery Jin Xuan oolong! It has a very rich, sweet, caramel flavor, but the tea is very light and silky from the green tea base. This tea is delicious and a great dessert tea nightcap!

Flavors: Butter, Caramel, Creamy, Sweet, Vanilla

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

I’m glad you like this and another appreciator of Bluebird teas. :D

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I wanted a light and simple tea to accompany my dinner tonight, so I decided to sipdown another of the T2 samplers I got from my massive T2 sampler sale haul. This is their genmaicha. I’ve actually only had one other genmaicha to date, so I haven’t exactly had a lot of tasting experience with them yet. I will say that when I tasted my first genmaicha (which I picked up at American Tea House in San Diego, which I’m going to guess is an average quality genmaicha at best), I really fell in love with that tea. It is probably one of my favorite kinds of green tea, and I find myself craving it often. I’m fairly certain that the genmaicha I’m used to is a standard blend using bancha leaf, so I was curious to try this one out, which uses sencha.

I guess I was expecting something different about the flavor, but I couldn’t really discern anything different in the taste from my other blend (perhaps it is using sencha leaf as well, or the difference is just too subtle for my under-developed palate to pick up on). The tea is tasty though, with the toasty, nutty, crisped rice flavors that made me such a fan of genmaicha tea. The green tea is very smooth and vegetal. The sampler had enough for two cups, and my first cup I made with my typical lighter steep (2 min) which was more subtle on the vegetal notes, which I enjoyed better than a darker steep (3 min) which I felt brought out some slight astringent qualities in the leaf, but also emphasized the vegetal flavors more. The tea held up to resteeping very well, and I managed to have several nice relaxing cups off only a two-serving sampler.

I have no doubt there are fancier genmaicha out there, but I found this tasty and enjoyable.

Flavors: Nutty, Roasted, Smooth, Toasted Rice, Vegetal

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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This is one of my favorite yerba mate blends that I’ve tried and a staple for me on mornings when I need an extra caffeine boost! I love anything and everything pumpkin, so I was very interested to try this one out, and while it didn’t have much of a pumpkin flavor, the pumpkin spices were so strong and flavorful and the tea so robust that after I finished off my sampler I restocked this one in my cupboard. The tea is best to me when a little heavy on the leaf, but it’s really economical so I don’t particularly feel bad about making a really strong cup; I usually use two teaspoons for a standard size 10 oz. mug or a tablespoon for one of my extra large size 12 oz. mugs. The base of the tea is this really nice blend of toasty roasted mate and sweetness from the rooibos and honeybush, and each sip is filled with a lot of tasty spices, namely cinnamon, clove, and mace (which tastes like a more robust nutmeg). I find that I don’t need to add sweetener, as the natural sweetness of the base and the stevia in the blend balances the spices well. The blend has a very rich, toasty, pumpkin spice feel, and I find it gives a very warm and toasty appeal. This is an excellent autumn blend that can be enjoyed any time, and it works well as a latte as well.

Full Review: https://teatimetuesdayreviews.wordpress.com/2017/10/10/tea41/

Flavors: Caramel, Cinnamon, Clove, Nutmeg, Nutty, Sweet, Toasty

185 °F / 85 °C 5 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
Lexie Aleah

Just made a cup of this tonight from the sample you sent me of it. It’s delicious! I didn’t need to add milk or sweeten my cup either.

Mastress Alita

It makes a nice latte if in the mood, but certainly isn’t necessary how some really astringent/overly spicy black chais can get. Always nice to have options with chais!

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drank Mandarin Silk by Art of Tea
1220 tasting notes

This is one of my favorite teas! I’ve had very hit-or-miss experiences with flavored oolongs, but I really enjoy this one! The pouchong base has a very creamy and smooth mouthfeel, and the flavor of the tea is sweet and decadent, reminding me of lemon chiffon cake. It has a lot of sweet vanilla notes, with some subtle citrus in the finish. The tea resteeps well, and I find that often on my second steep I’ll get much stronger lemon notes in my cup. This tea is great both warm and iced, and I’ve even made tasty frozen pops out of it sweetened with honey! My mom didn’t care for this one (she didn’t like the vanilla flavor), but I can’t get enough of the silky vanilla citrus flavor.

Full review: https://teatimetuesdayreviews.wordpress.com/2017/06/13/tea24/

Flavors: Creamy, Lemon, Smooth, Sweet, Vanilla

190 °F / 87 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 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 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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