109 Tasting Notes


I bought this from the English Tea Store during their free shipping promo, although you can buy it directly from Davidson’s if you are so inclined. My box from ETS was completely brutalized in transit, but I’ll discuss that further in a later post.

The tea is packaged inside a rather cheap, re-sealable ziploc-type bag, which is then placed inside a pressboard/cardboard pouch-shaped box. This is a 63 gram box. If you buy larger sizes from Davidson’s, perhaps they have better packaging.

I’m wondering if the packaging is a factor in the fact that the dry tea has almost no aroma at all. I had to practically ingest this in my nose to get even a faint scent of anything. This Assam-Ceylon blend brews a coppery brown cup. The ratio of Assam to Ceylon is good-more Assam than Ceylon. This is malty, but a bit bland and boring for an Irish Breakfast. It’s not very brisk or robust at all. I think I am going to call the company and see if I can get a production date, because I have a feeling this may have been on a shelf in a warehouse for entirely too long. It’s not stale or bitter, but it is uneventful. If I’m going with Irish Breakfast, I am in the mood (or NEED) something lively and bold and this just isn’t it at all.

EDIT-I just got off the phone with a very nice rep from Davidson’s and apparently the tea was produced in January (by them). Of course, the Assam and Ceylon must be 2011 harvests-but they shouldn’t be so weak so fast. Not sure how ETS stored this, but I am inclined to call this blend “Irish Breakfast for Wimps.” Of course, I am sure that even wimps enjoy good flavor-and there’s not lots of flavor here. Disappointing.

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drank Indonesian by Mark T. Wendell
109 tasting notes

Ok, I got 3 orders of tea in yesterday and I felt so overwhelmed over which tea to try first I felt like Imelda Marcos trying to pick out a pair of shoes.

So, I punted and chose this as my first tea today. I’ve developed a lot of affection for this tea since I first reviewed it about 2 months ago. It’s kinda Assam-like which is good for first thing in the morning. Malty and tannic, but not bitter or astringent. I feel there are some notes of nondescript spices in the tea-as if there were spices growing near the tea garden. Somewhat robust, but not too strong. It’s full leaf which means it’s higher quality and not insane on the caffeine. It appears to be an estate tea so I usually get 2 steeps out of it. Other than that, it’s nothing fancy, but it’s reliable. This is my “first cup” tea more than any other. Upping the rating.

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You know you need just one more tea… or 50. :-P

Scott B

I think I’ve given up the fantasy that one more tea or one more order is all I need. I could stop drinking tea tomorrow if I wanted to-right.

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Thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this generous sample to review.

I’ve only had silver needles once before (from a different company), and I wasn’t crazy about it-too floral for me.

However, I’d like to drink a little more white tea and jasmine-scented sounded promising.

Dry leaves are green with a silver-white coating and the needles are long with some curves. A very pleasant, but not overpowering, jasmine aroma emanates from the leaves. In addition, there is a scent of the tea in the undercurrent that I can’t quite describe. It’s sort of floral, but not exactly-but it’s nice.

The leaves brew into a pale, translucent liquor the color of straw.

The flavor is sweet, smooth, and of course jasmine-y. Although it’s delicate, the jasmine is not overpowering and it’s very natural. It’s lighter than say Jasmine pearls and I wonder if the flavors aren’t a touch more complementary here. This is a very good tea and it’s definitely worth trying if you like jasmine.

I had three western-style steeps of 1m, 2m, 3m.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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A little early for me to be going decaff, but I am expecting to have two or three cups of high caffeine tea later, so I need to save up for it.

This tea doesn’t have nearly the amount of berries in the photo-and none of the bright ones. The few I have look like raisins and are hard to find in the tea. Maybe I just got unlucky. The most prominent ingredient is the yellowish calendula petals.

I’m not sure if the base is a Nilgiri or an Assam as the berries and flavoring are all I can smell. The tea leaves appear to be full-leaf (or large broken pieces). The liquor is a coppery orange.

The flavor tastes very natural, but in addition to the berry taste is a bit of a floral taste. Maybe it’s the calendula petals, maybe it’s the flavoring. It’s not bad, but I didn’t really want anything other than berry and tea. I can taste the tea base a little, but not enough. The berry flavor is brought out a little better with some sugar.

If I had to go all decaff with my tea, I’d probably buy this for some variety. But, absent that, I probably wouldn’t buy it again.

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Like PG Tips,this is another “Oh, I can’t believe I found this English tea in my grocery store!” purchase. I had thought about buying this on Amazon and now I don’t have to.

This tastes very similar to PG Tips, and the Kenyan tea added to the blend makes those teas distinctive from other English Breakfast teas I’ve had. It’s bold and robust, but there is just something missing here. It just doesn’t seem flavorful enough compared to the similar PG Tips-especially considering the bit of tannic bite. I’ve tried brewing at 2,3, and 4 minutes. Leery about going 5 minutes with a bag of this-getting so much caffeine as it is. It’s not bad, but I am doubting that I’ll buy this again. The same store had Yorkshire Gold-maybe I’ll try that next.

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I’ve had the Yorkshire Gold and didn’t think it was terrific. I don’t know if ever got around to rating it.


Amy Oh – the first one I had was like…why is everyone LOVING this? But since then I have had better experiences…I totally see what you mean :)


I just noticed I didn’t review that either…not there anyways…perhaps it was a double listing…I’ll check :P

Scott B

People really love this red-I expected more out of it even though it’s bagged tea. Does the Gold taste much different than the Red?


I don’t think I have tried the Gold :(

Scott B

I think it’s only about $5 for a box of Gold-I probably can’t resist even if it’s not that memorable.


I hear ya! :) LOL

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Thanks to Angel and Teavivre for another nice sample.

Although I have not tried lots of green teas,Teavivre has done more to get me to appreciate green tea than anyone else. I’ve already had great results with their Dragonwell, Jasmine, and Xin Yang Mao Jian.

This tea is completely new to me. I really appreciate that Teavivre seems to be producing more organic teas.

The dry leaves are bright green and similar in shape and length to pine needles. The pleasant aroma is vegetal in nature. Brewed leaves are a bright, almost kelly green and contain more of the vegetal scent. Liquor is translucent and a pale greenish yellow in hue.

The flavor is more of the vegetal-cooked spinach is the flavor it most resembles to me. The tea is slightly sweet and a touch savory. It is smooth with zero bitterness or astringency-don’t let it cool too much though. Also note the recommended brew temp of 195 instead of 175 which is common on some of their other greens.

This is a nice refreshing cup on a hot day. It is really light. The tea was plucked in March of this year, so the antioxidants and nutrients are probably a little higher in this fresh tea-just the thing you need in summer.

Another good job by Teavivre.

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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So, in the middle of another string of 100 degree days and I am drinking a hot tea better suited as a treat after raking leaves on a cool, windy fall day.

One thing I really like about Butiki Teas is that they tell you what kind of tea base they use in their flavored teas. This tea uses an organic Ceylon base-many companies would just list “black teas” on their flavored teas and you’d have no idea what it was. I also love that the base is organic-how often do you see that in a blend? Butiki teas really respects its customers and I greatly appreciate that.

The tea itself is delicious. I can’t really compare it to a “real” pumpkin creme brulee as I’ve been vegan so long, I’ve never had one. However, the pumpkin is very natural and it has that amazing creme flavoring that is also in the Canteloupe and Cream tea. Some reviews have felt they tasted too much cinnamon or too much nutmeg, I feel the balance between the two is just right. It is not a super sweet tea, however it is perfectly drinkable without sweetener. Butiki recommends adding brown crystal sugar (which I think is the same as rock sugar?) and it certainly brings out more flavors that way, but I appreciate the fact that it’s left up to me whether I want to add sugar or not as opposed to dousing the whole bag with sugar.

This tea just oozes Autumn and I can’t wait to get some more when (or if) the weather cools this October. I’ll definitely be having this with some pumpkin pie during the holidays.

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Butiki Teas

Brown crystal sugar is the same as rock sugar. Its not as sweet as regular sugar so you will need to use more of it.

Scott B

Good to know. “Crystal” is a brand name of sugar around here, so when I ordered this tea I had thought you were just recommending that particular brand of regular brown sugar.


I defiantly want to try this tea now!!! :) i have never tried any of the rock sugars i usually use equal in my tea… I think though I will buy some and try it! Thanks for this post!!

Scott B

Hope you enjoy it, Sare!

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Free sample provided by Teavivre for review

Every time I think I don’t like floral teas, along comes Jasmine. Sweet and naturally “perfumey” I truly enjoy the dry aroma almost as much as the tea.

Teavivre has a new Jasmine tea that is supposed to be even higher quality than their premium Jasmine. While I am not doing a side-by-side comparison today (I’d be all jasmined out) this is a superior Jasmine.

The dry leaves are rolled into tight pearls and are olive green with prominent silver-white fuzz from the leaf tips. In producing this tea, the infusion of the leaves with jasmine is a time intensive process as the tea leaves are scented with jasmine flowers 7 separate times. If you have ever had cheap jasmine tea (that was probably just sprayed with a scent), you will truly appreciate the effort made here.

Liquor is pale yellow and translucent. The flavor is as you would expect-very sweet and jasmine-y. Not sure what else smells or tastes like jasmine. The tea is completely smooth and natural. I got 3 good steeps out of this at 1m, 2m, and 3m respectively with a constant water temp of 175. If you like high-quality jasmine, you should check this tea out.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Free sample provided by Teavivre for review

Many thanks to Angel and Teavivre who contacted me about doing another round of reviews. The shipping was REALLY FAST this time-8 days to my door! And of course, practically before I opened the box, Angel messaged me to make sure everything was okay with the shipment. Teavivre is really on the ball and I love it! I received approximately 16-21 grams of every tea in individual foil bags all inside one large re-sealable foil pouch.

This tea is first up, it being a Keemun (which I really enjoy) and a new tea being offered by Teavivre.

The dry leaves are long, a dark chocolate brown, and twisted to be very thin, with just a couple of light brown leaves mixed in. The scent is very fruity, similar to some FF Darjeelings, but without the accompanying “weedy” smell.

First Steep (Infused One minute @195) The liquor is predominantly orange with touches of red and brown. Brewed leaves smell more fruity and a little floral-a bit like a Ruby Black. Flavor is smooth with a fruity finish. No smokey or chocolate notes really. I did catch a couple tannins while splashing this around the back of my mouth.

Second Steep (Infused for 2 minutes) Brewed leaves are really starting to smell like a Ruby Black now-according to my notes, that means a little malty and a little of some type of mint. The flavor is weaker. I’m catching just a tiny hint of smoke and chocolate. Tannins are a little more noticeable. Mouthfeel is almost light.

Third Steep (Infused 3 minutes) Brewed leaves smell more like Ruby Black than ever-crowding out other notes. The tea is now starting to taste a bit like Ruby Black, although overall the flavor is weaker.

As always, this is a high quality tea from Teavivre. If you have wanted to try Keemun, but are afraid of smoky notes, this is your tea. However, if you really enjoy the distinctive smoke and chocolate notes, you may miss that with this cup.

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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drank Golden Monkey by Teavana
109 tasting notes

Chance placed me in a Teavana store this afternoon-for only the second time ever and the first time in 3 years.

They had 6 teas available for sampling, but zero black teas. Then they had the nerve to tell me that they didn’t carry Assam because basically, it was crap and they only carried the best. Considering all that cheap Rooibos they sell, that was a rather ridiculous statement. However, I was not in a confrontational mood and let it slide.

This was listed at one of their top-rated teas on Steepster. Well, we know that they don’t sell in amounts smaller than 2oz, just because. So, I paid $5 to try this as a “to go” tea (in store), my first Golden Monkey. Now I see that there are TWO entries and it seems it’s not so well-liked after all.

I did briefly see the leaves before they brewed them, but I failed to take notes. Who knows what parameters they used. It was small and crowded so I couldn’t get that info. Not ideal tasting conditions. It tasted pretty good. Kinda chocolately and maybe notes of butter or caramel. I would have bought one ounce to try some more, but I wasn’t paying $18.50 for 2 ounces of something I wasn’t really sure about.

They didn’t once take me over to the cast iron teapots or suggestive sell too much and they understood that “no, thanks” meant “no, thanks.” However, they tried to overpour my 2 ounces of Strawberry Paraiso-2.85 ounces is not “about” two ounces. They had 5 employees sharing one scale and one register, add in the customers and it was a mess, so you really had to keep an eye on them trying to overpour.

If they ever get around to selling samples or at least selling one ounce of tea, I would give this another try. However, the end result of this is I will probably try a few golden monkey teas from other companies who sell their tea that way.

Overall, I’d say this was an okay shopping experience-I did get some rock sugar because I wanted some and it was there. AND they had no minimum on how much to buy! I’d go to this store again if I was around to get a to go cup of a couple of their teas, but they don’t have a lot that really excites me.

Autumn Hearth

Teavana retired a straight Assam as well as a tropical blend with an Assam base a little less than a year ago, so of course the claim that it wasn’t highest quality is bogus, it just didn’t sell well enough, mostly because they were at the bottom of the tea wall, the employees were trained to top down sell (they were both quite affordable) and though the Assam Breeze was mostly a mango black tea it didn’t have the name mango in it. I was once scolded for selling 2oz of it to a woman who came in looking for a mango black tea and only wanted to try a bit. My manager was like “why did you pull down that tea?” and when I explained she asked “why only 2oz? 2oz is nothing, if you’re going to sell that tea, you need to sell a lb”. So yeah, no wonder they were retired. Everyone I worked with was so excited when they release Sakura Allure because it had mango in it and customers were frequently asking for mango flavored tea, but you really can’t taste it, Assam Breeze was quite delicious, but we were even discouraged from drinking the cheaper teas as employee beverages. End rant.

Scott B

Not having “mango” in the name is a sure marketing error-people love things with mango in it.
I prefer straight Assams and I suppose quality Assam is cheaper than quality oolongs, gyokuros and such. Probably not as much profit margin. Besides, the types of teas Teavana carries, and the way they are marketed is probably not conducive to getting lots of straight black tea drinkers in the door. I’m surprised they still sell Keemun and Copper Knot.

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Started drinking tea for health benefits maybe 5 years ago-exclusively bagged tea. Usually went for various Celestial Seasonings type of stuff. I bought a tea infuser at a gourmet shop once and then I realized there was almost no loose tea available. Eventually tiring of bags, I started ordering loose tea online and I have never gone back. Initially, I was exploring all the wild and exotic flavor combinations, but now I mostly drink straight teas. I still enjoy blended teas-but prefer those without “flavoring”. Hope to learn here and find some new teas I might not otherwise find. Am a vegan, so “milk” generally means “soymilk” to me. If it’s almond, rice, or coconut, I will mention that fact.

I am new here, and new to reviewing tea. Many of my initial reviews will be from memory and may not be very detailed at all. I hope to write more informative reviews on current and future teas.

I won’t let external factors affect my rating of the tea-such as slow shipping, too expensive, etc. I’ll mention any customer service problems in my reviews. I also won’t let my mistakes in not following the seller’s recommended parameters affect a rating. I can’t believe people who say “I forgot about it and oversteeped it” and then give it a rating. If I brew outside the parameters, I will wait until I brew it right before I give it a rating.

TEMPORARY RATING SYSTEM- Don’t hold me to these numbers and descriptions-like George Bluth, I like to tweak.

90+ It’s awesome, right?? I’ll probably try to keep it on hand.

80-89 – I really like this and will buy it again at some point, but there are so many teas to try!

70-79 – This is a pretty good tea and I may buy it again based on my mood, what tea store I am buying from, and what kind of deal I can get.

60-69 – This is okay. I finished the bag. I would drink it again if offered, but would not buy it again.

40-59 – IF I finished the bag, I recall this tea thinking “Why in the hell did I finish the bag?”

1-39 – Did not finish the bag. Maybe not even the cup. Tea was given away or discarded.



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