New Tasting Notes

Plum Deluxe has been on my to-try list for a while so I was excited to use the advent calendar as an opportunity to try out a bunch of their teas! I got the herbal calendar, so that I could drink through it at any time of day without worrying about maxing out my caffeine for the day or caffeinating too late. Day 1 of the 2022 herbal advent calendar is called Strawberries n’ Vanilla. Unfortunately, I threw out the packet before realizing that there’s no Steepster listing for this blend and it’s not on their website, so I couldn’t create a listing. 

I had to play around with it a lot, but the long and the short of it is that this blend doesn’t really work unless you add sugar to it. I don’t mind adding sugar sometimes to give tea flavoring a boost and really take it over the top, but if I have to add sugar in order to coax the flavor out then it’s ultimately not going to work for me. And my ability to taste and smell is otherwise working fine today, so it’s thankfully not an early covid symptom.

That’s not to say this wasn’t tasty once sweetened! Even with a short (3-minute) first steep and really long second steep, the second steep is relatively weak. So it makes more sense to just aim for one really solid first/only steep – I found that 7.5 minutes worked. Either way, I found that the brewed tea smelled faintly of strawberries and had a strong woody rooibos base. With the longer steep, I was able to get some soft, sweet strawberry and gentle vanilla flavor, but it was still dominated by the base. Adding oat milk didn’t do anything to change the flavor balance, it just made it creamier. But adding sugar and oat milk made it taste like a strawberry milkshake or strawberry taffy. Or just sugar alone, which is what I did with the first cup, brought out a nice, tart strawberry flavor and creamy vanilla. Really, if I could get this flavor without having to add sugar every time I’d be much more into this tea.

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Bought a bag of this on Black Friday.

Very good! I did the recommended steep of three minutes. At first I felt an almost bitterness until it cooled and can tell I wouldn’t care for it if brewed longer. Now I’m thinking the bitterness I sense looming if oversteeped may be actually the stronger rind of the strawberry.

You definitely get a strawberry jam pucker. After the black tea and strawberries as the main note, there are blueberries (I don’t taste them), cranberries (this may be causing some of the almost bitterness now that I think about it), then raspberry leaves, hibiscus flowers, rose, and natural fruit flavors

I did with a cube of sugar. This helps dilutes the fruit pucker. Very nice and strong dessert tea that I may try sweetening even further next time. I don’t think it would be that good iced but makes a good hot tea. Would be a good tea for toast or biscuits with jam

The smell is great and strawberry, and the name fun and clever!

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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drank Grynet by Nabo
3049 tasting notes

Nabo Advent Calendar 2022 – Day 2

So I was trying to determine what the name of this tea is. Google claims “grynet” means “the grit” (LOL) but somehow I doubt that’s it. The best I can guess is “gryn” appears to mean “grain”, which makes sense given this is a genmaicha. So something about grains. (shrugs) Anyone know a Swede? XD

Okay, so the dry tea straight up smelled like nail polish remover to me. I’ve heard people say that about teas with apple in them before, but I’ve never experienced it. So that was weird.

Steeped up, it’s mostly cardamom to me. It punches me in the face at the beginning of the sip, and then once it subsides a bit I can start to taste the other flavors. There’s a fruity tartness from the apple, and a touch of genmai toastiness. And then at the end, I get a bit of that nail polish remover again. Not sure if it’s just the cardamom interacting with something else or what. I actually don’t taste the green tea at all, but it does give body.

This one is quite imbalanced IMO, too much cardamom and then there’s that odd chemical nail polish note. I like the idea of a genmaicha with apple and cardamom, but the taste of this doesn’t really fit that description.

Flavors: Alcohol, Apple, Cardamom, Chemical, Seaweed, Spices, Sweet, Tart, Toasted Rice, Toasty

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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drank Ruby Coco by BrutaliTeas
3049 tasting notes

BrutaliTeas Advent Calendar 2022 – Day 2

Ooh, a chocolate and raspberry black tea! I’m very picky about chocolate teas in general, but I do love raspberry with chocolate and I enjoy Lupicia’s version of this pairing, so here’s hoping!

This tastes just like a raspberry Tootsie Pop to me. Maybe with a bit less raspberry though… The chocolate flavor is spot on for Tootsie Rolls, and it’s the dominant flavor to my palate. Then there’s a bit of candylike raspberry in the background, and a hint of an herbal note from the raspberry leaf. I don’t think I notice the honeybush here, it tastes like a black tea to me.

It’s not destined to become a favorite, but I’m biased against chocolate-flavored things. I am enjoying the cup though! :)

Flavors: Artificial, Candy, Chocolate, Herbal, Musty, Raspberry, Smooth, Sweet, Tart

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Part of the 2022 Advent Calendar

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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drank Blue of London by Palais des Thés
50 tasting notes

No notes yet. Add one?

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Jade Oolong by Fortnum & Mason
2834 tasting notes

Fortnum Advent Day 2

A tea that wasn’t in the big advent! Yaaaay!

Ashman was unexpectedly home this morning so I made the tea from both advents at breakfast and we tried both together. I steeped this sachet twice and poured it in a pitcher. Later, I steeped it a third time to drink by myself because the leaves have unfurled to fill the sachet fit to bustin’.

Sadly, I was so distracted this morning I can only say it tasted like a green oolong, not super and not bad. Ashman liked it well enough. On this third steep that I am sipping now so as to give a slightly better bite, I can say it is a green oolong, slightly milky and lightly brisk, with a slight mineral/stone taste on the tongue. It is supposed to have orchid notes but they must be muted by the repeated steeping. Shame on me for not paying attention this morning.

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Nice strong black tea. Great to wake up to in the morning or for an afternoon pick-me-up. This is my standard daily drinker.

Flavors: Tannic, Wood

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 5 g 12 OZ / 354 ML

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I will also be following along with whatever pops up on the Bird & Blend advent from my own stash, if I happen to have it in the cupboard.  Even if I didn’t buy a B&B advent this year, I’m in love with their virtual advent —  couldn’t be cuter. (Everyone can follow along with the virtual advent just as long as you have a B&B log in.)  I’m skipping Tea #1, Gingerbread Chai this year because I have only a few precious teaspoons remaining.  I wonder if B&B will ever offer free shipping to America again?  I know why they can’t at the moment, but I wonder if it will be Never Again?  There are a few staples I wouldn’t mind ordering this year.
THIS tea was thankfully shared by Cameron B a while ago.  I like it despite the bee pollen, and I loved trying it, but I don’t think it’s a staple.  However, whenever I steep it up, I forget how much I like it, so who knows.  If I was a Brit I think I’d know how much this tastes like the actual cookie…

Holiday tea 2022 #4 (because it’s in the advent)


Good idea! Two of my passions collided today as somebody I follow from the theatre world shared that she’d been sent their advent calendar and is opening it on Instagram every day. It’s really making me wish I had one!

Mastress Alita

I don’t remember this having bee pollen, did they change the recipe?

Last time I had it, I was shocked how much it tasted like a chocolate-frosted McVities digestive biscuit.

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This was tea for today from Sonnentor and I decided to brew it right after drinking first one.

Well, I see it hasn’t changed much either. Fruity tea, a little tart, nice spices — cinnamon and little bit of cloves.

Enjoyable cup.

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Nordqvist Moomin Advent Calendar 2022 – Day 2

It’s a chai today from Moomin! And another adorable name, of course. :3

This one is a bit too light, similar to yesterday. I think I’ll try using 6 ounces of water for these sachets instead of my usual 8 ounces, to see if that helps. It’s a very mild chai for sure, but it’s a bit gingerbread-esque. There is no ingredients list for this one as it’s not on their website, but I did see a piece of a cardamom pod in the sachet. Mostly I’m getting ginger and a bit of clove I think? It’s hard to say because overall it tastes a bit weak.

So definitely not splendid, but still a very drinkable gingerbread-ish chai sort of tea.

Flavors: Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove, Cookie, Ginger, Molasses, Smooth, Spices, Sweet

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML

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I wrote a somewhat negative review of this last year with the advent, but I’m surprised by it – this is actually a tea I have in my cupboard because I’ve liked it! And I liked it again this time, so who knows what was going on.

I tend to forget about my tea and oversteep it, which is obviously more of a problem with the more sensitive blends and most pure teas. I’m learning though! Pulled up at just before 3 minutes, I still had more bitterness than I generally prefer, but mostly a toasted spinach & grass flavor. Actually, it reminds me a lot of a favorite spinach & pine nut salad somehow, which is one reason I bought more.

DAVIDsTEA Around the World Advent, Day 2

Flavors: Grass, Nuts, Spinach

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Maple Pecan by Teeccino
133 tasting notes

I’m new to the teeccino brand and discovered both the brand and flavor from sipsby. I was so intrigued I wanted to sample more variety from them in their advent, and what do we have here? The same flavor that I started with!

With a little experimenting, I’m finding that a longer steep really overpowers the maple and pecan flavor. It’s a deep and roasty tea that does indeed make me feel like I’m drinking a coffee (which I love, since I adore the scent and flavor of coffee but the acidity is a real problem for me). If I stick more to the 3 minute end of the recommended steep time, I get a lot more maple scent and a sweet, nutty flavor that I imagine was the intent.

I’m still deciding if I’d buy more of this; I look forward to the rest of these flavors so I can choose a couple favorites.

teeccino advent, day 1

Flavors: Maple, Pecan, Roasted

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

I’m not a big fan of chicory, but I would definitely brave it to try this!

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I had so much fun with the DAVIDsTEA matcha sampler a couple years ago that I decided I had to do this (especially because I’m definitely not buying any matcha without sampling it any time soon).

I half expected a plain matcha to start us off, so I was happy to see this instead. The berry is kind of generic berry candy in scent and flavor, but it’s very much overwhelmed by an intense bitterness I wasn’t expecting. I tend to prefer a little milk in my matcha; unfortunately we were out yesterday! (My toddler made it very clear that was not acceptable, so we’ve fixed it moving forward). I went with a bit of honey instead, which helped with the bitterness, but it was still hard for me to finish. Which is a shame because the berry was a decent flavor!

Bird & Blend Matcha Advent Day 1

Flavors: Berry, Bitter, Candy, Grass

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I’m new to Bird & Blend and thought that sampling from their advent calendars would be a good way to decide if I needed to place an order. (The answer is already yes, because of their Spiced Pumpkin Chai I got as a sample). I couldn’t decide between caffeine free and regular, and figured I’d go for both since I’m not aiming to keep up with them this month – plus the matcha because it’s fun and different.

I should have realized that this would mean I’m in for a good deal of rooibos; why is it just now occurring to me that this is going to be heavily featured in caffeine-free tea?

Actually, this one isn’t too terrible for me. The ginger is spicy and stands out above everything else going on, and it’s almost enough for me to ignore the wood-chips flavor I get out of the rooibos. I don’t know that it feels like gingerbread, but I’m wondering if that might be a regional difference in what Americans consider gingerbread.

I wouldn’t buy it, but I’m not mad about having a few bags of it.

Bird & Blend Caffeine & Caffeine Free Advents, Day 1

Flavors: Ginger, Wet Wood

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

Yup, Gingerbread Chai and Spiced Pumpkin Pie are on my Must Order Soon list. :D


Bird & Blend is a favourite of mine, I definitely recommend placing an order! As for gingerbread, I think for once our idea of it here in the UK is pretty similar to the US. I could be wrong though! I have this in my stash, I might pull it out and let you know how ‘gingerbread-y’ it is to me.

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Well the reviews for this tea are a bit underwhelming, but I liked it! A black tea base without bitterness or astringency along with vanilla cereal flavoring. Maybe I didn’t expect a lot from this flavored blend, but I liked the second steep so much I tried for a third. Which was weaker, but still drinkable. I give it a thumbs up for drinking again, maybe not to seek out and purchase :)
Thanks to Skysamurai for sending it my way!

Flavors: Marshmallow, Vanilla

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So while I have 3 advent calendars I plan to enjoy every day, I also bought some that I’m using as samplers and will be satisfied if I finish them by the end of January. This sipsby bagged version is one – I really didn’t want to do their loose leaf again, but the bagged one seemed like a nice way to have tea for work.

It makes me laugh that this tea was my day 1, since I just finished it from their subscription. I don’t know that I have much new to say about it! It’s still a good tea; a lovely earl grey that doesn’t overwhelm me with lavender. It feels perfect for the morning and remains on my list of “sometime when I don’t have other earl grey waiting for me”.

Sipsby Bagged Advent Day 1

Flavors: Earl Grey, Lavender, Vanilla

200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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Despite being a subscriber, I had no idea Plum Deluxe did an advent calendar until I started seeing reviews last year, so this was the other one I had to have.

This was a fun way to start. I love peach, and the peach here is done well, not too artificial, though it could have been a touch stronger. I noticed it more as I let the cup cool. The maple is more of a scent and aftertaste, and definitely mellows a lot with a cooler cup. I think that balances well – in a colder tea I’d prefer more peach, but the hot tea brings out more maple.

I can’t find this tea on their website or anything, so it may not be available, but if it were I’d go for more.

Plum Deluxe Advent Day 1

Flavors: Maple, Peach

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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drank Zen Mint by teakruthi
3799 tasting notes

additional notes:  I really liked this unique mint black.  Seemed smooth and creamy, even if the mint got a bit catnippy.  No spelling autocorrect for “catnippy”?  Oh wait, it did that time. hhmm.   As much as I would love to order from Teakruthi again, I’m still traumatized by their live bug infestation in their hibiscus tea blends incident from a couple years ago…  I don’t see a couple of those available on their site anymore though, so maybe that solved the problem.
2022 sipdowns: 118


Their what incident?? Oh lord, new fear unlocked.

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drank Gute Laune by Sonnentor
1357 tasting notes

It has been again No. 1 in Sonnentor Advent Calendar, as 3 years ago. This time there are a little poems on each tea bag wrapper, but they are in Czech and honestly I don’t feel I can translate them well (and certainly I would lose the rhytm and rhymes). So I won’t add them this year.

As I have arrived late yesterday, I had no mood to drink herbal tea just after interesting tea from Nabo.

This one, honestly, is the same. Very herbal, without much distinctive notes, mild and nothing off-putting. On their English website under Cheery name; I am keeping original German names (though it is made in Czech Republic, as they have two factories). Anyone wants to have 1 kg (1000 gr) bag? Yep, that’s bulk version they have available of this.


There’s bulk, and then there’s that! There aren’t many teas I could go through a kg of!

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drank Avalon by Casting Whimsy
1570 tasting notes

Advent day 2.

The bag smells very strongly of cinnamon and cloves. I go through waves of feeling like this is the smell of a pantry (the scent of all the spices muddled together and indistinguishable) and something a little more interesting than that. I feel like it was more recognizable as a spiced apple when it was hot and as the cup cools it goes round on the edges. Is it gross? No. Is it interesting? Eh? My feelings might be drastically different if the base wasn’t red rooibos, which I’m not a fan of. The rooibos dry mouth doesn’t kick in until late in the finish which is nice. I saw that there were a few rooibos blends in this advent (I’m a total cheater and peeked). Wish it were all caffeinated blends because I need all the go juice I can get this week!

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec

Ooh I’m going to pinch that, ‘pantry scented’ sounds so much nicer than ‘muddled’.

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drank My Panettone by Dammann Frères
3049 tasting notes

Dammann Frères Advent Calendar 2022 – Day 2

Ooh, excited to try this one! My husband is Italian-American so we generally buy a panettone around the holidays every year.

This is honestly spot-on and I’m very impressed. It tastes just like an orangey brioche, which is essentially what panettone is. Super buttery and silky smooth with the perfect amount of sweet yet fresh orange flavor. It sounds decadent, but actually it tastes quite light, which is perfect for a light and fluffy panettone. The only thing it’s missing for me is the raisins, which I can live without.

Very scrumptious, this will definitely go on my to-order list!

Flavors: Bread, Butter, Cake, Nuts, Orange, Orange Zest, Smooth, Sweet

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML

Now I want to eat a panettone!

Cameron B.

Me too lol! We’ll have to get one soon so I can devour it… :D

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I love Song Zhong teas and this one is yet another great example. The profile is complex, atftertaste long and evolving, the mouthfeel very coating and the energy is particularly warming and cleansing.

Dry leaf aroma reminds me of cherries and custard, while wet leaves smell more like apricots, durian, peat moss. There are, however, many notes to explore.

The taste is strong, but not overly bitter. The feeling is warming and expansive, and there is also some elegant astringency. Flavours include marmite, snails, tree sap, tomato vine, almond shell and many others. Aftertaste then has more of some herbal spiciness and sourness. There is also a stonefruit fragrance and further hints of tequila, bread, and berries.

Flavors: Alcohol, Almond, Apricot, Astringent, Berries, Bitter, Bread, Cherry, Custard, Fruity, Herbal, Peat Moss, Plant Stems, Pleasantly Sour, Sap, Spicy, Stonefruit, Tomato, Yeasty

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 4 OZ / 110 ML

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