30 Tasting Notes


This whimsically-named little tea caught my attention at milk oolong and held it… riiight up until bergamot. Put those torches out, I’m just telling the truth. I do enjoy the occasion earl grey, but the potential for bitterness always kind of put me off. Furthermore, I’ve never encountered bergamot outside of the Grey realm, so I went back and forth about this tea before I decided, what the hell, milk oolong is my jam, maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. Turns out I am. The first steep is very strongly bergamot, but the milk oolong rushes in and saves my damsel tongue from the citrus dragon. I’m hoping subsequent steeps will be a little more oolong and a little less bergamot. Still, this is one of the rare instances where I don’t really mind it overly much. It is very reminiscent of the “creme” versions of earl greys I’ve had before, but much lighter and very smooth courtesy of the oolong. I’m also getting soft floral notes, though I honestly couldn’t say whether that’s the forget-me-not blossoms, the lotus stamens, or both of them working in concert. My only complaint is that I can’t really detect much coconut, though that could easily be blamed on the scoop I took out of the caddy, as I don’t see any coconut flakes in my infuser. Next time!

Also, I feel like it’s worth mentioning that this tea is gorgeous. I love looking at it, with the little blue flowers that I mistook for cornflower blossoms, and the coconut flakes rising out of the blend like shark fins. The oolong pellets are made up of variegated greens, ranging from nearly-brown to jade. Watching it unfurl was half the fun.

Flavors: Bergamot, Creamy, Floral, Green, Smooth

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Broke into this tonight because I was really craving a silver needle, and I blew through my Mandala ounce in no time flat. I tend to prefer sweeter, honeysuckle notes in my silver needle, and this does have elements of that, but there’s a secondary, complex flavor strung throughout as well. In truth, it kind of reminds me of Easter bread? So essentially a sweet, almond bread with a light sugar glaze over the top. As a kid, Easter bread was a spring staple for me, and I loved my noni’s version of it. She used to make it every year, freeze it, and then wait for me to visit so that she could give me a big hunk of it. She knew it was my favorite. Regardless, I suspect I underleafed this slightly, as is my tendency with any and all of my Butiki hoard, but I’ll remedy that for the next steep. Still, I find myself sighing happily into this cup. Nothing eases away the film of the day like nostalgia and good tea.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Butter, Sweet

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Another from Stephanie. Wooooow is this fragrant. I cavalierly took a gulp and proceeded to quite literally choke. Disclaimer: pretty sure it was partially the fault of liquid trickling down into my airway, but the unexpected strength of the flavor did not help. After my coughing fit subsided, I did another couple of hummingbird-like swallows, and had to dump the cup. It was way too potent, floral and almost artificial in a way that gave me a headache. Though, again, that could have just been a residual effect of hacking up a lung. I have a hard time believing this is a “natural aroma” as the website advertises, but stranger things have happened. Not to be deterred, I brewed it up a second time to see if the flavor was a little more palatable. I should note that the rating is based on this latter steep. It is definitely better as it fades, but still much too reminiscent of accidentally walking through a cloud of perfume. There’s honeyed notes that I would enjoy in a different cup, but they’re overwhelmed here. I might try one more steep and see if there’s an improvement, but apparently I’m a green oolong girl above all else. Sorry, Dan Cong.

Flavors: Astringent, Flowers, Gardenias, Honey, Perfume

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drank Dreamsicle Puerh by 52teas
30 tasting notes

My first pu’erh! Or is it pu’er? Pu-erh? Google is suspiciously unhelpful on this subject. Another sample from my recent swap with Stephanie that I decided to brew up. I sort of just guessed at steeping parameters. Do you rinse a flavored pu’erh? Oops. Should’ve looked into this a little more before diving straight in. Also, funny story, but I kind of forgot that I’d brewed this up until late last night. So I put it in a covered mug and popped it in the fridge for safekeeping. My first sip today had me rearing back from my mug, going “what on earth is this?” followed quickly by “oh, hey, it’s kind of good.” Probably for the best that it’s flavored, since I’m getting a bitter, rind-like undertone almost immediately, but the creamy factor cuts into it a lot. Also, I’m detecting authentic orange in this, which is a really pleasant surprise. I usually find so-called creamsicle flavored teas to be heavy on either the cream aspect or the orange, but this is excellently balanced. I believe this is from the old 52teas line, and it’s definitely one of the better teas I’ve had from them.

Flavors: Bitter, Cream, Orange, Orange Zest

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This sample comes courtesy of Stephanie. Thanks again for our swap, m’dear! This is a really strange tea for me, because I’m accustomed to hojicha being roasty and leaning more toward a black flavor profile. This hojicha, however, claims on the front of the packet to be candied sweetness between a green and an oolong. Curious, I decided to brew some up to see if these claims held true. It is definitely sweet, especially as it hits the back of the throat. Not quite cane sugar, but something fairly close. Unrefined sugar? Letting it sit on my tongue evokes a more vegetal, outcome, and proves to be a bit drying. There’s a whisper of roasted grain if I gulp, although that might be my brain attempting to compensate for what it expects to be there. The closest I can come to a solid flavor comparison would be green beans. All in all, not bad! I’m definitely chalking it up as a learning experience, since my notions about what a hojicha should taste like were challenged here. I think it’d take some flavoring really well, although it’s a perfectly acceptable straight tea.

Flavors: Green Beans, Roasted Barley, Sugar, Sweet, Vegetal

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drank Bliss by American Tea Room
30 tasting notes

Okay, seriously, you need to cold brew this bad boy. The tartness of the blend is so much more palatable, and it comes off as fruity instead of just plain sour. I find it to be less overtly floral than ATR’s Nirvana, so it’s my preferred blend of the two, even if it tends more toward bitterness when left to its own devices. Having eaten dragonfruit before, I can detect it in here. Dragonfruit is kind of like exotic kiwi, in that it doesn’t have much flavor on its own, but is very distinctly itself all the same. Not quite citrus, not quite sweet: it lends itself to the honeysuckle notes in this cup well enough. I’m not sure I found even a single pomegranate aril in my tea, though, which is sort of odd in retrospect. Then again, pomegranates aren’t cheap, and this blend is fairly inexpensive.

Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Honeysuckle, Tart

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drank Grapefruit Guava by Zen Tea
30 tasting notes

Aw yeah, it’s a tea-drinking kind of night. My Friday today, so I can be as hopped up on caffeine as I like. You know, in theory. I’ll regret it when I try and turn in later. Anyway, this tea is kind of a curious beast. Predominantly grapefruit with something almost nutty and grain-like beneath it. Possibly the fault of the green tea itself? I say fault, but it’s an oddly nice pairing. Vaguely comforting and warm as it settles in my stomach. It’s very breakfast-y for whatever reason, and I say this as a person who doesn’t usually indulge in the most important meal of the day. There’s a definite astringency to it as well, which I imagine is due in part to the grapefruit. I don’t know if I would buy this again, but I won’t have any issues finishing what’s left.

Flavors: Astringent, Grain, Grapefruit, Guava, Nutty

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drank Pandan Chiffon by ETTE TEA
30 tasting notes

I’ve had this tea for a while, and I’ll admit upfront that it did not endear itself to me immediately. I think I was expecting a black tea instead of a green based on the look of the leaves and the color of the liquor, and my taste buds were feeling put out as a result. However, after months spent languishing in an unlabeled little baggie in the cupboard, I discovered it again and tried it anew, cold-brew style. Once I figured out what on earth it was, I realized I quite enjoyed it, and would commit to a tin of it in the future. I really love osmanthus in my oolongs, and it happens to compliment the cinnamon in this cup really well. It isn’t as toasty as one would expect from the leaf color, which is just as well, because I’m not a huge fan of overly roasted greens. Instead a light, breezy sweetness is coupled with cinnamon spice, to the point where I can practically feel it rolling across my tongue. It’s something like an apple pie reduction, minus the apple – if that even makes any sense, ugh. Word failure. There’s something distinctly pastry-like about it, but I’ve never had the titular dessert before, so maybe that’s why I’m grasping at straws here. Anyway, I’m really glad that I gave it a second try, even if it was mostly inadvertent on my part.

Flavors: Caramel, Cinnamon, Pastries, Sweet

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Got a teeny tin of this from Marzipan ‘s sale. I don’t know why I do these things to myself. It’s like I can’t get past the denial stage of Butiki’s passing. Unsurprisingly, this is a tasty little tea. Woe is me. The addition of chocolate chips is slightly strange, given that the tea base itself seems to have cocoa overtones. The chips themselves are particularly apparent in the aftertaste, followed by citrus and a light trace of something resembling marshmallow cream fluff. I almost want to declare the chocolate in this blend redundant, but I do kind of like the way it pops up, says hello, and then skips off elsewhere to let you enjoy the cup as a whole. I’m going to coil around what little remains of my tin and weep softly into my mug, so please look away now.

Flavors: Chocolate, Malt, Marshmallow, Orange

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drank Gold Rush by DAVIDsTEA
30 tasting notes

Reviewing from my tablet, so apologies in advance for any egregious typo-ing. I bought this in the vague hope that it might replace my ever-dwindling supply of Rivertea’s Mulberry White, which is delicious, refreshing fruit in a cup. Given my reaction to pretty much everything I’ve tried from DavidsTea, I have no idea what I was expecting. First of all, there is very little actual “tea” in this blend. No wonder the white needle is listed as the third ingredient. My cup was predominantly mulberries and coconut meat, with a few sad, stray needles. That wouldn’t have been an issue, except the smell of whatever vanilla flavoring the fruits were infused with was overwhelming. Skeptical, but willing to be proven wrong, I brewed it up. I’m not sure who listed alcohol as one of the flavor profiles, but that is exactly what I’m getting. It’s like cheap vodka with subpar vanilla flavoring to try and offset the burn. The oily film it leaves in my mouth is also reminiscent of the regret I experience right before a hangover. I couldn’t even taste the coconut past it. Who in their right mind took something as delightful as mulberries and thought: “You know what this needs? Artificial flavoring.” I am baffled and irrationally angry over what could have been a superior blend, if not for DavidsTea’s penchant for drowning out a tea’s natural elements. I choked down half of a big mug, the rest went down the sink. But my boundless optimism had me wondering if maybe a second steep would have washed most of the flavoring away. To test, I picked a mulberry out of the wet leaf and took a tentative bite, only to spit it out immediately. Credit where credit is due – that awful flavoring is really in there. Disappointing all around.

Flavors: Alcohol, Cream, Sugar, Vanilla

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Figured I’ve been around this website long enough that I should put something here. So, I live in California, but not the sunnier bits, and nowhere near the ocean. Mountains on all sides is fairly calming, though. I’m in that murky area between being an adult and being in denial about being an adult. It’s rough, but I’ll probably make it. I love to read, write, and I have a crippling online shopping addiction that recently has been devoted in large part to tea. Big shock, right?

In terms of tea, I tend to gravitate toward vegetal and creamy oolongs, lightly mineral greens, and honeysuckle whites. I do occasionally enjoy a good flavored tea, however.

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