140 Tasting Notes

drank Silver Buds Yabao by Verdant Tea
140 tasting notes

Backlog from last night.

During my first steep of this, when I took out the tea strainer from my mug, I thought to myself, “Gosh, this looks so clear. Did I steep it wrong? I don’t think it’s ready yet.” But, I caught a whiff of something from the mug, which convinced me to take a sip.

Reading Verdant’s description of this tea gave me an idea of what the tea was like, but I still had no clue what I was tasting in my first few sips. At first, I thought I could taste some pine-iness, which was followed by a slight spiciness, joined with some sweetness, which lingered in the aftertaste. I was blown away by the complexities in what I was expecting would be a very watery/light tea.

With later steepings, the spiciness fades a bit, but the pine-iness remains. The sweetness changes from a rock candy-like sweet to a slightly marshmallow-y sweet.

As I was drinking this, I almost felt as if I were walking through a forest in New England. I wonder what would happen if I were to brew some pu-erh alongside this— I could get the earthy smell of a forest in the spring after some rain, along with the pine smell of the trees. A pine forest in my dorm room!

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 30 sec

What a cool way of imagining this tea. I think of it as piney also and of being in a forest by a deep cold alpine pool of water. I never thought of having a Shu Puer next to the Yabao…cool to try if I had someone to share with (too much to drink alone and I hate to waste my Puer!)

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drank Vanilla Comoro by Harney & Sons
140 tasting notes

Yum! Very nice and slightly sweet. Rich vanilla flavour with a hint of caramel. I’m normally not a fan of vanilla (got the 5-satchet sampler on a whim in an order I placed not too long ago), so I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I rather like this tea. I think this would go quite well with a berry pie or something of the sort.

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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I got this as a sample with my order from TeaVivre. The tea tastes light and floral, with a hint of sweetness that reminds me of wildflower honey lingering in the aftertaste. Very refreshing.

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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drank Sweet Merlot Black Tea by 52teas
140 tasting notes

Just got this in the mail today and made a cup of this tea to bring with me on my way to class. Steeped, it has a very sweet, grape-y aroma, sort of tastes like grape juice (more like grape-flavoured fruit snacks or something), and is slightly astringent. Being under the drinking age at the moment, I’ve never had Merlot wine, so someone else will have to do the comparing (I honestly got the tea because I was curious about the freeze-dried grapes!). Overall, I think I like it, but I’ll have to try this again some other time without being distracted by note-taking to give a proper rating.

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 45 sec

I am having a difficult time deciding about this one as well and I used to be a BIG TIME wine snob with merlot being my fav. Not that this tea is BAD or anything I am just not sure it is all that great.


Yeah, I really don’t know what to make of it. For me at least, I pick up the mug and expect and smell a grape-y tea, but when I actually sip it, I’m still surprised by the grape, if that makes any sense. Maybe it takes some getting used to? When it’s cooled down, it almost reminds me of grape-flavoured Skittles.

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I’m getting mildly irritated at all of the papers that I’ve been writing/need to write, so I’m taking a short (well, maybe long-ish) tea break as I take notes on this and watch a bit of Mad Men. I got a sample of this in my first order from Verdant, tried it once Western-style, but didn’t really enjoy it. This time, I’m trying this out Gongfu style.

Dry leaf aroma: Sweet, almost chocolate-y. It reminds me of some sweet snack or dessert I had at some point in my life, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

First infusion: Tea liquor has a golden hue. Light, slightly sweet, wheaty flavour. Creamy?

Second infusion: Maltier than the first infusion, and I’m definitely beginning to taste something honeylike. At one point I thought I could taste a spice that has a light ‘bite’ to it— cinnamon? Pepper?

Third infusion: Still wheaty, as if I had taken a bite out of fresh wheat bread. Ah, there it is. A little peppery. The creaminess/butteriness is fading.

Fourth infusion: Steeped this a bit longer than I intended to, whoops. Still quite malty, but the honey isn’t as prominent as it was in previous steeps. The creaminess is now mostly gone and has been replaced with a (slightly tingly?) peppery taste. And on that pleasant note, I think I’m going to head back to writing.

200 °F / 93 °C

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drank Chocolate Malt by 52teas
140 tasting notes

This + a splash of half and half + a bit of sugar = delicious!

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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Yum! Basically tastes like a hot liquid version of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

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Backlogging from several days ago. Amazingly complex tea— floral, buttery, and reminds me of freshly mown grass. Sweet, sugary aftertaste. Will steep and write a more detailed note once I have time.

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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drank Buttered Rum (organic) by DAVIDsTEA
140 tasting notes

Backlogging from a few days ago.
Dry leaf has a creamy and coconutty aroma. Tea tastes and smells very butterscotch-y. Tastes great hot or cold— traces of coconut seem to appear as the tea cools. I’m definitely inclined to get more of this once I run out.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Just brewed a cup of this to wind down for the evening. The dry leaves smell vegetal, but upon brewing, the tea has a light, floral aroma. The liquor is a pale, golden colour. Sipping it, I could taste something that reminded me of the aroma of wildflower honey. I could also feel a slightly dry/astringent sensation on my tongue, which might have been due to the temperature of the water. I couldn’t really detect a buttery flavour/sensation this time around. Overall, I seem to have underestimated this tea the first time I drank it; I’m definitely bumping the rating up a bit.

Edit: It seems to get more dry/astringent as it cools, but there’s also a stronger, sweeter aftertaste.

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 45 sec

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I have far too many interests. Tea is one of them.

Background in bioethics, medical anthropology, and evolutionary biology with aspirations of eventually going into a medical field. I also have strong interests in theater, computer science, and food (which shouldn’t be particularly surprising).

Brewing method is usually Western style for black teas (2-3 minutes at near-boiling), “grandpa style” for shu pu’ers and longjing, and gongfu (with a gaiwan) short steeps for sheng and shu pu’ers (two 5-second rinses, then 5, 10, 15-second steeps with a gradual increase in steep times to taste). The gaiwan is also used for oolongs though I sometimes use a brew basket if the gaiwan is occupied and I’m taking a break from pu’er.

I enjoy black teas, pu’er, and oolongs (leaning towards aged, cliff/Wuyi, or roasted/dark), depending on my mood. I don’t usually drink green tea but do enjoy a cup every so often.

My rating methods have changed over time and as a result, they’re very inconsistent. For the most part, as of 11 November 2014, unless a tea is exceptional in some way (either good or bad), I will refrain from leaving a numerical rating.

The final iteration of my rating system before I stopped (note: I never did get around to re-calibrating most of my older notes):
99 & 100: I will go to almost any lengths to keep this stocked in my cupboard.
90-98: I’m willing to or already do frequently repurchase this when my stock runs low.
80-89: I enjoy this tea, and I may be inclined to get more of it once I run out.
70-79: While this is a good tea, I don’t plan on having it in constant supply in my tea stash.
50-69: This might still be a good tea, but I wouldn’t get it myself.
40-49: Just tolerable enough for me to finish the cup, but I don’t think I’ll be trying it again any time soon.
Below 40: Noping the heck out of this cup/pot.

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