958 Tasting Notes


Sampler Sunday! This is the last oolong I had left from the Here’s Hoping Teabox, so thank you to tea-sipper for organizing and all who participated! I’ve never tried this kind of oolong before and have no idea how old this tea may be by now so take my impression with a grain of salt.

Decided to try to make the time for a gong fu session this morning, which I am also no expert in. I did split the leaf in my sample to use a smaller amount of water in the session since I don’t like how water-heavy/full I get over so many infusions, and then I’d still have enough leaf to compare with a western infusion as well.

3.45g / 70ml (in a 100ml capacity shiboridashi) / 208F / Rinse|20s|25s|30s|40s|50s|60s|75s|90s|120s

I took the tea through nine infusions, though the flavor was noticably starting to fade by the seventh infusion, and the eighth and ninth infusions were very weak. The wet leaf had a toasty aroma that after the first infusion reminded me of a savory stirfry, notibly with cashew and water chestnut aroma. After the last aroma the wet leaf had a more smoky aroma, and also smelled of raisins.

The first two infusions had a very roasty, nutty aroma, but also a lot of sweetness. The flavor was very pleasant, reminding me a lot of houjicha; it tasted of roasted nuts, had a slightly sweet honey note, and had very subtle undertones of minerals/wet rocks and smoke. I was worried it was going to be another smoke bomb like the last oolong I tried, but nope! There is a tanginess that is left on the back of the tongue which I personally quite like. I get a bitter nut (like walnuts) paired with a honey roast vibe. By the third/fourth infusion a lot of woodiness was coming through, and by the fourth infusion through to the end of the session, the sweetness dissipated and the nuttiness was paired more with a mineral/wet rock flavor, with the subtle smoky aftertaste becoming slightly more noticable. I also started getting a slight vegetable taste of wet water chestnuts which became stronger in later steeps. The tangy feeling on the tongue was completely gone by mid-session to late session, only apparent in the first few infusions. There was a very light pepperiness in the last few infusions as the flavor was fading away.

I brewed my western cup with 3g in 350ml with 208F water for 3 minutes. The western cup was quite nice, with a nice toasty, roasted nut flavor and a mineral note toward the end of the sip, with a very subtle touch of smokiness. The sweeter honeyed notes from earlier steeps in the gong fu session and the stronger woody and vegetal water chestnut notes seemed to be the most lacking in the western cuppa. It was very smooth and lacked the tangy component on the back of the tongue I got in the early steeps of my gong fu session as well.

Since I’m a fan of houjicha and this reminded me in a lot of ways of the flavor notes of that tea, I am definitely interested in exploring this type of oolong more.

Flavors: Honey, Mineral, Nutty, Pepper, Roasted Nuts, Smoke, Smooth, Tangy, Toasty, Vegetal, Walnut, Wet Rocks, Wood

Boiling 3 g 2 OZ / 70 ML

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This is going to be my nightly herbal for a while until I reach sipdown, since I bought this on a vacation in San Diego back in fall of 2017 from Shakespeare’s Corner Shoppe, a great place to visit for a good High Tea! Most of their teas are wholesaled, but they have a small selection of original blends named after famous British icons, both real and fictional. This is one of their original blends, and also one of their decaf options. It’s a decaf black tea blend mixed with rooibos, lemongrass, and lavender.

The tea looks like a lighter black tea in color, and the lemongrass and lavender definitely come off strongly in the aroma. The base is quite malty and woody, though it still comes off a bit astringent, and I’m surprised it isn’t more sweet for the black tea being blended with so much rooibos; I wish more of the honey/caramel/vanilla notes that naturally come forward in rooibos were showing up here, but they seem to be overpowered by the other components of the blend. I’m not really digging the lemongrass; I love lemon and lavender as a flavor combo, but I wish one of the other citrus herbs was used, because there is a lot of lemongrass in the tea, and it comes off a little too herby/hay-like and adds a bit of a vegetal sourness. I wonder if there might be too much lavender as well adding to that vegetal sour taste, since I have had that happen with overleafed lavender before; I do like the strong lavender flavor in the tea, though.

So my initial impression is that this blend isn’t working out for me much. I do have quite a bit of leaf though, so I have some ideas of how to make it better moving forward. With my nightly herbals I usually leave the teabag in the pot, since herbals don’t tend to “oversteep” but with this one, I’m going to make sure to always remove the leaf since it does have black tea in the mix (and I’ve also noticed that lavender also goes bitter when steeped too long) and may play around with shorter steeps than I usually give herbals, due to the black leaf, to see if that cuts down on astringent/bitter notes. Also will see how this pairs with lemon-infused honey to get some nicer citrus notes in there than the lemongrass is currently providing. I also really like how lavender pairs with coconut, so I also might try a small amount of sweet coconut milk in the future. (The lemon-infused honey has already improved this cup quite a bit).

Though I’ll attempt to improve this, I feel the rooibos adds nothing, the lemongrass should be lemon verbena or lemon myrtle, and it may need a better balance on the lavender. I do like the concept of a lemon lavender black tea I can drink at bedtime, even if this one didn’t quite pan out for me, though!

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Citrus, Floral, Hay, Herbaceous, Lavender, Lemongrass, Malt, Vegetal, Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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Throwback Thursday! So I decided to make a cup of this tea this morning, as my memory of it was that it tasted like York Peppermint Patties or Thin Mints, and it is Girl Scout Cookie season, so it seemed appropriate. (I just got my haul: four boxes of Samoas which is obviously my fav, a box of Tagalongs, and a box of Trefoils, since I’ve taken a liking to dipping shortbread cookies in black tea). This is one of my oldest teas, so I may mark this for sipdown… but it also has a pu-erh base, so I’m hoping this has held up well despite the age, and may continue to do so if I continue to put it off a bit longer?

I don’t know if I would wax poetic as much about this tea as I did when I originally reviewed it, but back then, I still hadn’t tried as many teas yet. I’m sure at the time of that review, it probably was the best tea I’d had up to that point and deserved the rating I gave it then; dropping the rating from my previous 95 now isn’t so much that it “no longer holds up,” but more that I have a better baseline of comparison now. That said, I still really enjoy this one. It is a very smooth pu-erh without any overly fermented tastes that I often get from the pu’s used as bases in flavored blends. I wouldn’t even say this is a particularly “earthy” tea; rather I get these lovely notes of a very natural cocoa and a sort of refreshing, wintergreen pine sort of flavor that feels brisk and refreshing on the tongue. The tea has notes of chocolate but isn’t a heavy, sweet chocolate tea, leaving more of a layer of bittersweet dark chocolate beneath a very strong brisk mint flavor that really pops in the mouth and lingers in the aftertaste. The tea is even still quite nice as it starts to cool. I usually avoid chocolate teas iced, but I’m curious to try doing an iced tea of this as an experiment, because I think with the strong minty profile it would hold up nicely. That is going on the to-do list.

So, still loving this. I still attest it is like York Peppermint Patties or Thin Mints in a cup, though not quite as heavy as those two things on the chocolate. I’ll probably rebrew this on my lunch break because it’s really hitting the spot!

Flavors: Cocoa, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Mint, Peppermint, Pine, Smooth

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 14 OZ / 400 ML

Hmm, that’s the only time I like mint… With chocolate :D. Sounds yummy.


Samoas and Tagalongs were always my two favorites… and those gooey strawberry cookies they discontinued ages ago.

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Throwback Thursday! While I dearly love this tea, it was time to put it at the forefront of my sipdown efforts… it was one of the oldest in my cupboard, and I noticed that the zip seal on the bag had come loose. It’s an herbal, and thankfully the flavor hadn’t been comprimised too much.

Smelling the brewed cup, it still had a nice citrusy lemon aroma, with notes of ginger and pepper spice and a somewhat herbaceous body. I found that the flavor of this had held up; this is a lemon ginger tea that doesn’t have a weird Pledge cleaner taste, isn’t burning with an over-abundance of ginger, and I love how the tulsi base compliments the lemon/ginger notes. The lemon tastes juicy and the ginger does have a spiciness to it, but it tastes very natural, and while it leaves a nice warmth down the throat and in the belly, there is only a very mild spiciness left on the tongue, not a burning lingering heat. I find it quite soothing on the throat and stomach. The tulsi adds notes of hay, pepper, citrus, and mint to the cup, and blends so naturally with the lemon and ginger flavors. If anything, I think I’ve just become more of a tulsi fan since I first discovered this tea, and think I actually appreciate the nuances of this blend a bit more now!

I really enjoyed the lemon ginger yerba mate tea by Bird & Blend, Morning Kick, that I tried recently, which also had a very nice, natural lemon flavor, and now that I’ve revisited this tea in rather close succession to the other, I can say that it is much stronger on the spice notes than Morning Kick; the B&B blend would be my choice if I wanted a) caffeine and b) was in the mood for a more gentle spice hit. But this tea is definitely my go-to lemon ginger as an any-hour herbal tea (I do enjoy my pot of tea before bed!) or for a tolerable ginger dose for a sore throat or nauseous stomach.

I’m a bit sad to have sipped this one down; this has been noted for my re-order list for when I finally start refreshing my cupboards.

Flavors: Citrus, Ginger, Hay, Lemon, Mint, Pepper, Spicy

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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I enjoyed the warm fruity tea last night, so I looked through my stash and found this sampler which claimed it was for the size of my little dobin teapot, so I decided to brew this up for my herbal tonight. I really liked the sweet fruity aroma of the dry leaf, and it did seem to have a bit of a rhubarb tanginess to it. I hope that translates into the steeped brew.

Brewed, I’m getting a strong strawberries and cream aroma, very fruity and sweet, but less of the rhubarb aroma than I got from the dry leaf. This has a very sweet strawberry flavor, so it reminds me of those strawberry hard candies and is coming off a little artificial-tasting as a result to me. It is followed by a nice tart/tangy hibi fruitiness and a touch of rhubarb flavor. I think my main issue is the cream flavor is coming off too strongly, and while I don’t mind candy-like teas, this one just tastes too off-balance/strange/artificial to me; if that flavor was dialed back just a bit, or didn’t linger on my tongue as much as it does, or the tangy rhubarb was a lot stronger to help balance it out, I’d like this one more. So not my favorite strawberry herbal tea I’ve tried. T2’s Strawberries and Cream had a more natural strawberries and cream flavor, and for strawberries, cream, and rhubarb, Bird & Blend’s Rhubarb & Custard is still the winner there.

But for a free sampler, I’m still going to enjoy this pot of tea before bed. I usually drink fruity teas iced, so I’m surprised how much I’ve been enjoying piping hot fruit herbals recently; they’ve really been hitting the spot.

Flavors: Artificial, Candy, Cream, Fruity, Hibiscus, Perfume, Rhubarb, Strawberry, Tangy, Tart

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 5 g 17 OZ / 500 ML

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drank Fruity Oasis by DAVIDsTEA
958 tasting notes

Teabox Tuesday! There wasn’t much of this left in the Discovery Teabox, and I took what was left… I’m not sure if I had enough leaf for a proper sampling (especially since I personally go a little heavy on rooibos and what I put in my infuser didn’t look as heavy as I usually brew rooibos teas), so I dropped the water amount to attempt to accomodate for that. Hopefully I got close to the right ballpark to get a decent ratio for an herbal. If it turns out weak, well… I know the problem is probably going to be that there just wasn’t really much leaf left of this one. But I love hibi so I really wanted to try it! In fact, I’m surprised so many folks even touched this one in the teabox because of the hibi, considering it is so universally hated around here. Thank you to Skysamurai for organizing the Discovery Teabox and all participants for sharing!

My cup is a lovely deep red, not a watery-looking red or a strange pink or lavender shade, so I think I managed to get my leaf/water balance correct, phew (it did occur to me if the tea did turn out a bit weak from being the tail end of the leaf from the teabox, I could always supplement with a little plain hibi from my stash, heh). The aroma is very fruity; mostly I smell a red berry sweet, jammy aroma, and a hint of pineapple.

I like the flavor! I really am getting a very sweet, jammy taste at the forefront, that has a strong red berry flavor, with notes of strawberry and currant, with a tart/tangy juicy fruitiness at the end of the sip that tastes strongly of pineapple and citrus fruit. There is another flavor there too, and I can’t describe it, so it must be either the aloe or the prickly pear, as I’m not exactly familiar with either. I believe it’s the prickly pear, since one description says the juice is somewhat like a cross between bubblegum and watermelon, and that actually is very close to the flavor I’m tasting. It’s very sweet, and somewhat melon-like. I almost want to say watermelon Jolly Rancher, just not that intense.

I’d love to try this one iced, but sometimes a warm fruity hibi tea on a rainy evening feels very cozy and satisfying… I think it’s from the thicker mouthfeel, it feels very calming as it coats the throat and warms the tummy. Really enjoyed this cup.

Flavors: Black Currant, Candy, Citrus, Fruity, Jam, Melon, Pineapple, Strawberry, Sweet, Tangy, Tart

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Teabox Tuesday! This is my last old 52Teas sample from the Discovery Teabox, so thank you to Skysamurai for organizing and all participants for sharing! This one is a 2013 blend, so I’m not expecting much regarding flavor considering the age. Honestly, I’ll just be happy to have a warmer mug of tea after sipping on tepid tea all morning…

Brewed up, it smells like a berry bubblegum. And my first sip is giving me that impression, as well. I’m getting a sweet berry flavor, like strawberry or raspberry candy, and definitely a strong bubblegum flavor, with a sort of floral presense… maybe a very subtle hint of rose, and fairly sweet, but the end of the sip turns a bit vegetal with a hint of bitterness; not an unpleasant bitterness, it reminds me of when I was a kid and used to pull up dandelions and chew on the white roots. Did anyone else ever do that, or was I just a weird kid?

So I wouldn’t say that Cotton Candy is really my impression, but there is still a lot of flavor in this tea considering the age, and I am enjoy the sort of sweet berry/bubblegum flavor I am getting. And I’d love seeing more teas going the bubblegum/cotton candy route. It may be a weird choice for a flavor profile, but I really like them.

Flavors: Berry, Candy, Dandelion, Floral, Rose, Sweet, Vegetal

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

I picked dandelion flowers to prevent them from going to seed and spreading in the lawn…. but did not sample anything.

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drank Monk's Blend by Tealyra
958 tasting notes

Teabox Tuesday! I grabbed this sample from the Discovery Teabox, so thank you to Skysamurai for organizing and all participants for sharing! I had to run a ton of errands this morning bright and early before work, so by the time I made it to work, this tea was already not as warm as I’d prefer. Still drinkable, though.

This is pretty much a black breakfast sort of tea; I got a lot of malty/toast notes, a bit of a dry autumn leaf flavor, and a bit of a peppery/subtle smoke flavor toward the end of the sip. This is actually a quite nice blend; I often get the autumn leaf taste from darjeelings and I can definitely taste the Keemun in the blend rather distinctly. I just wish I could’ve enjoyed this while it was still properly warm and not sort of luke warm in my thermos. Ah well. Things have just been crazy lately, hense the lack of much tea-goings-on for me of recent.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Malt, Pepper, Smoke, Smooth, Toast

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 14 OZ / 400 ML
Evol Ving Ness

I quite liked this one too. I’ll have to track the packet down to try it again and log it. Happy to hear that you enjoyed it.

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drank Raspberry Cream by 52teas
958 tasting notes

Teabox Tuesday! I squeezed in another sample from the Discovery Teabox on my lunch break, so thank you to Skysamurai for organizing and all participants for sharing! This one is from 2013, so not quite as old as my tea from this morning, but still an old enough blend I’m certainly not expecting any miracles due to the age of the blend.

Surprisingly, the dry leaf of this still had a lot of aroma, especially compared to the last two of these older 52Teas blends, and they’ve been fairly comparable in age. Not sure if that’s just luck of this particular flavoring holding up well, or it was just stored better, or what, but I’m definitely smelling raspberry… a bit like a raspberry creme soda? And that aroma is holding up in the brewed cup, too. It isn’t a really strong flavor hit, and I’m still getting that metallic/alcoholic note, but it actually tastes just like a different raspberry tea in my collection (that is only a year or two old, I might add!), just a bit softer/not as robust. That other tea has that metallic/alcoholic quality to its flavoring, too. I really wish natural/artificial flavorings listed their contents so I could figure out which flavorings gave me this issue, I bet its a specific chemical/ingredient in certain ones, but I have no way of knowing since they don’t have to disclose that… meh.

But I’m pretty surprised. Considering the age of this tea and it tastes comparable to other raspberry teas I have that I bought around 2017, I’m really impressed. Though I can smell a cream component, I don’t think it’s really coming forward in the taste; I get the maltiness of the black base, the slight tart note of the raspberry, a hint of sweetness, but nothing noticably cream-like as far as flavor. Not a bad cuppa as far as age. I’m definitely finding that whatever flavorings 52Teas uses today are far more to my liking than what they used in the previous era; I definitely don’t get that weird unnatural aftertaste from the flavorings used now (I’d say the fruit flavorings in particular are some of the most juicy, best fruity flavorings I’ve tasted in teas).

Flavors: Alcohol, Dark Bittersweet, Malt, Metallic, Raspberry

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

Makes me want to dig through my stash to see if I can find this (if I didn’t drink the last cup already). I loved the raspberry in this one.

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Teabox Tuesday! Another sample from the Discovery Teabox, so thank you to Skysamurai for organizing and all participants for sharing! I’m trying to work through all the old 52Teas blend samples I took from the box first. This one is from 2012, and apparently it’s supposed to be a “buttered toffee caramel corn” flavored black tea, but I’m not getting any of that from sniffing the leaf, so perhaps this one has been hit the hardest from age (7 years? Ya I would expect as much!). But I’m a huge Doctor Who fan, so I was happy to see a Doctor Who themed blend regardless.

Had to take this one to work after a rushed and stressful morning getting into the office, since all this stupid snow froze my car door shut so I couldn’t defrost and was 15 minutes late (granted, at least I have a car to defrost now… well… sort of. I don’t exactly properly own it yet, even though I’ve paid for it. My family couldn’t find the Title anywhere, and when your grandma has just but put into longterm care for severe dementia, there is no way she is going to know where that Title is. We’ve paid the ridiculous $93 duplicate fee from the state of Oregon, but it’ll take up to 5 weeks to receive it. Ooooooooooooooooooooh unnecessary paperwork…)

I’m definitely not picking up anything caramelly in the flavor anymore. There is a sweetness to the flavor compared to a plain black tea, but I’d say it tastes mostly like a subtle burnt sugar flavor, leaning towards the ghost of something toffee-like, with an odd hint of a sort of cherry/marzipan note. And I’m still getting that dry metallic/alcohol taste toward the end of the sip, exactly the same as I got from the Candy Corn tea yesterday, so that is either my tastebuds reacting to a certain brand of flavorings that was used on these really old 52Teas blends, or simply something that is coming out from the age of the tea itself.

Of the ones I’ve tried so far, this one seems to have held up the worst flavorwise compared to the description, but I’m still happy to have something warm to revitalize my fingers and tummy after Icegate this morning with the car. (Sadly my toes still haven’t bounced back yet). I would love to see more Doctor Who-inspired blends in general (and not Adagio custom blends… I’m just not really a fan of those). They make my geeky soul happy.

Flavors: Alcohol, Burnt Sugar, Malt, Marzipan, Metallic

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 3 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

Sad. This tea was pretty tasty back when it was fresh (I know this because it was a repurchase for me), but the last cup of mine was less-than-stellar as well.

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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.

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://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/1JjlpjQ94UyoryaDRMIeqnPHObgvCtmRp/view?usp=sharing . I am currently strictly limiting tea trading/ordering to get my collection under control! My participation in any tea boxes, tea exchanges, or group orders, and acceptance of any tea gifts is very limited 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 outbound gifting (USA only!)

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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