Steepster Freeze 2021 #1: 01/12/21

I don’t typically review teas I’ve reviewed before, and I reviewed this one three years ago now (Original review here: https://steepster.com/mastressalita/posts/373785 ). Needless to say, it is getting quite old and really needs some proper sipdown love soon. Though the planed almonds included in the tea do little for the flavor and seem more decorative to me, the overall “nutty” flavor profile of houjicha (and the fact it is one of the few “non-herbal” teas I can safely drink after my caffeine cut-off hour) made this a suitable pick for my evening cup for National Marzipan Day.

Time has definitely not done this tea any favors. It does still have its mapley aroma and some maple notes are holding on in the flavor, it isn’t as potent as I remember it once being. Mostly, the houjicha itself just feels a bit stale and had a stronger “bitter woodiness” that is coming across almost bark-like now. It was time to experiment and see if there are other ways I can creatively use up this tea (I did cold brew it and mix it in a smoothie not long ago with DAVIDsTEA Maple Matcha, which worked great for the remainder of that matcha sampler packet!)

Tonight, I decided to try a latte. 16oz, 12oz water to 4oz plain oat milk, frothed. I steeped two heaping teaspoons of the houjicha in 205F for around five minutes to create a strong infusion, then mixed in the milk. It wasn’t quite the super creamy, indulgent cuppa I was hoping for, so while I normally don’t sweeten my tea, I did add a teaspoon of maple syrup to this one. That was a game changer! It helped bring out the maple notes from the houjicha blend and smooth the edges on some of the stronger woody/barky notes. Now my cup tastes very much like sweet roasted nuts, maple, and smooth (as opposed to biting) wood. Very soothing!

Flavors: Bark, Maple, Roasted Nuts, Toasty, Wood

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

Miss this one!

Mastress Alita

I agree! This will definitely be on the list of TeaSource teas I will greatly miss once I’ve used it up. I do plan to try the latte recipe with plain houjicha at some point and see how that goes. I’ve been enjoying my nightly latte of this one!

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Miss this one!

Mastress Alita

I agree! This will definitely be on the list of TeaSource teas I will greatly miss once I’ve used it up. I do plan to try the latte recipe with plain houjicha at some point and see how that goes. I’ve been enjoying my nightly latte of this one!

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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
-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://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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