321 Tasting Notes


It’s Friday! And it’s spring! And it’s sunny outside! Yaaaaaaay!

I have to run an open mic night tonight at the music store I work at. I’ve never run or even been to one before, and I have to say I am UNDULY anxious and I’ve been that way all week. I’m just trying to remind myself that I’m doing my best, and there are just some things I can’t control (like the fact that corporate decided the stores would be the PERFECT place to have open mic nights and our location is a shoebox) and that it’s just an open mic night, and if it’s kind of awkward or a disaster everyone’ll probably forget about it soon enough.

I like the leaves of this tea. They remind me of shreds of tree bark. I didn’t bother with a measuring spoon, I just took out a few pinches. The smell is a little unexpected; it’s kind of earthy, but there’s this cold minty overtone. I’m having this after breakfast so there may be a bit of an aftertaste influence. I’m trying to decide how to describe the flavor. This is the first tea I’ve had that I would legitimately describe as “mineral.” Maybe a little green or planty. I steeped it for two or three minutes at most, yet it’s astringent. I can’t put my finger on the smell of the liquor, but puddles come to mind. If you like tea with a bit of a “cool” flavor, this is definitely one. The aftertaste is more decidedly dirt-like.

So far, there’s not really anything about this flavor that is a must-have for me, but it’s a worthwhile experience. I’m deciding if I want to take a second steeping to work.


Yum, sheng :)

Holly Faye

Stephanie, you have no idea how happy I am that you left that comment. I’ve been wondering for forever what the difference between sheng and shu was, and knowing that this particular tea was a sheng inspired me to the Google. I guess I know I’m partial to shus, and how shengs are generally described doesn’t appeal to me yet, but that’s what exploring is for!


LOL! Yay I accidentally helped! :)

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My Teavivre pu-erh order FINALLY arrived today!

I got the sampler that has 5 different pu-erhs. What I know about pu-erhs you can fit into a thimble, so tonight after work, I reached into the bag and went with the first sample I grabbed. It was this one.

There’s two little mini-cakes per sample bag. I love the mini tuochas, they’re kind of adorable. They smell great, too – a bit of a black-tea-like sweetness, but the main tone is a misty wood-like smell. Tree bark comes to mind. I did not do a rinse on this one. The steeping instructions said boiling water, 3 to 10 minutes. Excellent!

Twenty or so minutes later, I decided to get off the couch and finally take a sip. Next time I do a first steep on this, I am going to stick to the parameters Teavivre recommended. It’s still really cool tasting: that thick, earthy flavor, tempted to be fishy but not quite there. However, it’s a little on the astringent side, and I’ve got a feeling that’s because of how long I steeped it. Pu-erhs are generally considered forgiving, but some things do have their limits. I’m looking forward to trying the second infusion.

I got this sampler because I’ve been curious about the potential of pu-erhs. To the casual tea drinker, a lot of the adjectives used to describe pu-erh teas sound absolutely outlandish, but they’ve always seemed like the great ones could be so intriguing, complex, evocative, and (god I hate this adjective) grown-up. A little too much time in the teapot aside, this one did not disappoint. Give me a couple of times with this and it could very easily become a favorite.


Think of it this way… how grown up can it be if we describe it as dirt, moss, barn yard, fishy, or manure, etc. etc. and then we dare each other to try it. Sure sounds like a bunch of us reclaiming childhood to me. :)

Holly Faye

Haha, true! I hadn’t thought of it that way!


puerhs are so much fun :)

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drank My Morning Mate by Teavana
320 tasting notes

I’d like to start by saying thank you again to the people who wrote comments on last night’s tasting note. Normally I don’t join online communities, but I absolutely love love LOVE the atmosphere on here, not just when someone is going through a rough time but always. To me, this community is about appreciating little bits of life (in the form of tea), even when life isn’t the greatest, and the joy of sharing those experiences. Steepster is the best and I hope that never changes!

That said, I still feel a bit guilty about that note because I feel like I made myself look worse off than I am. The thing is, for the most part I consider myself pretty stable, although I do have a lot of negativity and self-frustration that I’ve yet to shake off. Every so often I’ll have ridiculous mood swings, and when I have those, all of the little insecurities/stress/bitternesses/“baggage” comes straight to the forefront and takes over and is the only thing. Last night was one of those nights, especially since there were a few external factors exacerbating it. Maybe it’s not all a bad thing that happens, because I tend to deal with things by pushing them to the back of my mind, and it’s a good catalyst to get them dealt with so I can start focusing on other, better things!

Aaaaaaaanywho. I wound up getting less sleep than I really need again last night (there’s a habit to work on!), so this is my choice for the morning since I’ve done my gunpowder & mate for a few days now. I have to get ready for work, but I just wanna sit here and drink this cup with ambient noise in the background. It’s still a fun chocolatey flavor. And there’s bananas!


I agree. Steepster is by far the best online community that I’m a part of. Dont feel guilty, we’ve all had bad days and vented/shared our worries. Steepster is a safe space, and we should be able to do that.
I hope that things are better going forward!


A mate… with chocolate… and bananas! Seriously, how Teavana is that? Haha.


aww. I’ve come on here to vent a lot especially lately. It’s all good!

Tea Sipper

I was going to comment yesterday: I like to appreciate the little things… I will never run out of those. But it looks like I didn’t need to say that. :D

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drank Fujian Baroque by Adagio Teas
320 tasting notes


Warning: emotional unpacking ahead. Oh, I’m gonna regret this in the morning.

I’m all over the place tonight and I don’t even know why. I realized that I seem to have three default emotions, depending on the situation and the time of day: carefree and happy, stressed (anywhere from mild to getting-into-my-dreams), and seething with anger (rarely over any real-world problem, usually over any part of a tangled knot of insecurities I’ve been dwelling on for years.) Tonight, I cycled through all three of them in really rapid succession. I’ve been trying to be positive lately, but my success with that seems to do more with my mood than anything. When I’m in a good mood, it’s very easy; when I’m not, I literally do not want to get rid of my negativity… somehow it makes me feel like I’m less weak, gullible, malleable, spineless, etc. if I’m human enough to be angry about something, and like I can be taken seriously (or something) if I have some amount of cynicism/rage/bitterness to carry around with me. Messed up, I know. But I’m afraid of conflict, and I never have the courage to confront the people who may be responsible for my being angry… and then the cycle continues. Also, I don’t feel like these feelings are really valid, since I haven’t had anything happen in my life to warrant this much angst – especially so far after middle school, when I’m supposed to be all grown up and adjusted and full-time job and apartment and engagement ring (and I’m living with my parents with no social life whatsoever.) I want to talk to somebody about it, but the only person who really qualifies for the job (my mom) has heard me blather about my stupid me-problems so many times she’s probably about sick of it.

The one thing I will say, though. Somehow the combination of bass practice and tea seems to help a LOT. Tonight, after one of my moody spells, I sat down and took a sip of this tea – and something about warm liquid with a flavor I don’t taste very often put my head in the right place. It wasn’t a matter of liking or disliking the tea (it’s still a little on the bitter side for my taste), it was a comfort thing and an experience thing.

Can I just stay up and drink tea for a while?

Tea Sipper

I’m sorry it’s tough for you right now. Please note that some mothers are the most irrational/impossible people and you at least have a mom that will listen. :D

Terri HarpLady

(hmmmm….I posted a comment, & it’s not here…2nd try)
Music soothes the savage beast, Tea makes a good substitute. Together they work miracles!
(ok…dammit, that is NOT really what I said the first time through…but it was something like that)


For sure, tea can be good for what ails you. It is interesting in this day and age that we are both more and less connected with others and with the world around us. Our lifestyles often make it more difficult to make flesh and blood connection. Please remember that there are those here and among your friends and family who love and care for you as you are. I know many people who have or are going through similar periods to what you are going through right now, some who have no clue what they want get through it by experimentation and reaching out to the world. Others get through it by fully defining what they want and gunning for it. Everyone sometimes needs interspection and change, there’s no harm in it and sometimes it’s incredibly necessary.


I’m really sorry to hear that you’re going through a rough time, but I’m glad that you have found at least some comfort in the fine things in life like tea and music.


Your feelings are always valid, because of what they are – your feelings. And I know it’s hard to shake off, but ‘supposed to’ really is the worst thing ever. Everybody’s experience is different.


I’m sure many of us feel like this from time to time and by writing it on Steepster you are surrounded by like minded folk. So there is nothing to regret :) Everyone has left their words of wisdom and they have said things better than I could but I am usually always online so if you ever need anyone to talk to (even if it’s just someone to listen) then I’m here. I hope your dark clouds shift shortly, remember that from the bottom the only way is up.

Holly Faye

Hi everyone, thank you for being so supportive. I really appreciate your comments, and it’s nice to know that there are people out there (whom I’ve never even seen face to face) who are as friendly and positive as you guys.


I agree with what everyone here said, and I hope you’re feeling better. Though it’s not exactly what you’re talking about, coincidentally, last night I was flipping through channels and came upon the documentary “Happy” on PBS. I’m always intrigued by the idea of having more control over my own emotional well-being so I watched it. It’s a little on the simplistic side, but it does have some interesting information, and the mere act of watching it was uplifting to me. I’ve read about the way the brain adapts to certain stimulus and how it can change itself, but I didn’t know, for example, that there’s a practice of meditation on compassion that can make significant changes to brain structure and that results in a greater ability to feel joy. I’m personally going to try that one and see how it makes me feel as soon as I can figure out the best way to learn the practice.

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drank Pumpkin Spice by Harney & Sons
320 tasting notes

Egh. For the second time in less than a month, I seem to be getting sick. The week of your boss being gone and you having to work 7 hours by yourself each day is NOT the time to get sick! I actually don’t feel awful, and I don’t seem to be getting worse, but I’m scared that I’m going to wake up tomorrow and feel like death warmed over.

I’ve heard once or twice before that rooibos is supposed to boost your immune system. Is that true? Am I making that up? Oh well. I’m going to bed early tonight anyway, right after I finish rewatching an ep of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Vaguely Autumnal Rooibos, it is then.

Actually it’s better than I remember. Once you know to expect Vaguely Autumnal Rooibos rather than Pumpkin Spice, it’s not a bad little tea. It’s warm, sweet, and comforting, with a trace of… not tang. Vaguely Autumnal pumpkin-ness.

I still have waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many sachets of it, though.


Yay TNG!

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Before I remembered that I supposedly have an Irish Breakfast Blend from Arbor Teas somewhere in the bowels of my cupboard, I was trying to decide what tea to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with. After going between a couple of different options, I finally settled on this one.

Um, Klutz. “French” and “Blue” are not St. Patrick’s day words.

OK so there’s a ramble attached. In the summer of 2001, I got to go to Ireland with my mom and my grandma. Back then, we were all convinced we had Irish heritage (which has since turned out not to be as true as we’d thought) and were basically obsessed with everything Irish. The trip was absolutely wonderful, and there are so many details about it I have yet to forget. I’m not sure at exactly what point in the trip I smelled lavender – I have a feeling it may have been in some soap or lotion or something – but lavender is now inextricably connected with that romantic/romanticized Ireland I have in my head.

And this tea is the lavenderiest damn lavender you have ever lavendered in your lavendering life. I still wish I could make the liquor be that purply color, like the picture on the H&S site, but no matter. This is a lovely, heady trip down memory lane. It’s another one of those teas, too, that smells like another time and place (I think I’m a bit obsessed with those! Usually happens with the more potent floral teas.)

Happy tea.


Actually, the colour of St Patrick is blue, not green, so… It’s not totally off.


“And this tea is the lavenderiest damn lavender you have ever lavendered in your lavendering life.”

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This is my evening cuppa as I practice my bass. And make no effort to get this version of this song out of my head: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCXEtvbJkkY

I’ve reviewed this tea approximately 903 times I think. I actually laid off it for a few months while I didn’t drink tea as much, and when I did it was usually something flavored. Getting back to it… there’s a reason it’s my favorite. It is the quintessence of everything I want in a tea: a flavor that is is familiar and desirable (cocoa) yet unexpected (earthy, raisins) at the same time. I have never had anything else quite like it.

Happy place.

Boiling 6 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Thanks for the music! :)

Terri HarpLady

AND for the trip down memory lane, when people really knew what music was about! :)

Holly Faye

You’re welcome! And YES! Normally I don’t like to be one of those “kids these days” curmudgeons (given as I am kinda one of them), but these times could really use some Soul Train!

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Gunpowder & Mate by Teapots & Treasures

Not the best morning. Bit stressed out, all the little things. Woke up from a creepy-ass nightmare a bit before 6 AM and never went back to sleep. Need the good stuff.

This green taste is cleansing and refreshing this morning. Already starting to feel a bit better. I never thought this would be a staple, but apparently it’s about to be.

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Gunpowder & Mate by Teapots & Treasures

This is take two of this one. I was combing through old Steepster notes last night and found my review of this one; apparently I’d had it in November while watching Back to the Future: Part II, and while I wasn’t in love with the taste it was a nice burst of energy. To be honest, I’d just about forgotten I still had it, but it sounded like just the thing this morning when I was sluggish.

And you know what, it was! I drank about 2/3 to 3/4 of a cup at home as I dashed around getting ready, then took a thermos to work. The leaves are a mix of the rolled gunpowder leaves and more fine shreddings (the mate part?) The smell and taste are grassy-smoky, “dark green” like the color of the leaves. I wasn’t a fan of the flavor when I first tried it, but now I don’t mind it. It’s growing on me a little, in fact. If anything, the “green-ness” of the flavor is refreshing and kind of clean. And I drank it all day and didn’t have the mid-afternoon slump.

I’m glad to have a tea in my cupboard that has, so far, proven itself to be an extremely good energy boost and a nice alternative to my standard morning teas. Fresh, clean, and different from anything else I’ve got.

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The name’s Holly, and I’ve been a tea drinker since spring of 2013. Tea is my happy place – it picks me up, it calms me down, it helps me focus, it helps me loosen my grip, it’s a little bit of positivity in each day. I do not drink alcohol, so tea is my recreational beverage. I love learning everything there is to know about it and sharing my experiences.

When I’m not drinking or writing about tea, I’m working at a music store and pursuing a Master’s degree in professional writing. You may also find me reading, writing, trying to learn French, cycling on the weekends, being a klutz, or making horrible puns and Star Trek references. Likely all at the same time.

My Tea Blog: http://steepinclined.wordpress.com/


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