633 Tasting Notes

drank Santa's Secret by DAVIDsTEA
633 tasting notes

This is an old sample from Shmiracles. Thank you! Why I haven’t tried it till now, I couldn’t tell you. Samples have a way of getting lost in my cupboard after a few months.

The brewed tea aroma is peppermint, sugar, and cream. Despite its age, this tea is deliciously minty! Wow, this is really incredible! It’s got a great balance of mint and vanilla. Add vanilla and cream flavors to just about anything and I’m sold! This is no exception. Plus, it’s got those cute little candy canes. :)

Mmm mmm! I am really enjoying this. I know it’s late to be drinking black tea, but this is hitting the spot. There’s a bit of an odd aftertaste that’s not too great, but the main flavor is so delicious that I think I’m going to pick up some more this holiday season!

Flavors: Cream, Peppermint, Vanilla

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Old Tree Shui Xian by Verdant Tea
633 tasting notes

My Li Xiangxi Special Sample Pack finally arrived! I paid $35 and waited about 5 weeks, so this better be worth it! The dry leaf aroma is rocky and mineraly. The brewed tea aroma is similar but saltier and more developed.

The flavor is really special! It’s rocky and mineraly with notes of honey and butterscotch sweetness. It definitely has lots of spice notes. I love spicy notes in teas. They’re probably my favorite. I also feel like there’s a blood orange note in the aftertaste. Looking at Verdant’s description of this tea, I’m spot on! That’s exciting. :)

This is a truly lovely rock oolong. The flavor is crisp and clean. There’s no bitterness or astringency. I know I say that for a lot of Verdant teas and that’s true for them all. But this one has a cleanness to it that is unique. You definitely know you’re drinking the best of the best. The aftertaste lingers long after the sip, like several minutes later kind of long.

This is a tea that should be savored and appreciated early in the morning when all is quiet. I suggest enjoying it gongfu style because it benefits from lots of infusions. I found myself quickly making the steeps longer though. I pretty much doubled the infusions each time till I was up to a couple minutes. Honestly, this is the best rock oolong I’ve ever tasted. I highly recommend it.

Flavors: Blood orange, Butterscotch, Honey, Mineral

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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The dry leaf aroma is sweet and floral. It’s also almost fruity. The brewed tea aroma is a floral green oolong. This is my kind of tea!

I got this sample from a co-worker/friend. I have no idea what company this is from as the red, vacuum sealed package is only covered in kanji. I tried translating 茗典茶藏 and determined it says: “tea for ceremony, tea to have.” Anyone come across this before?

The leaves fully unfurled after the second infusion for two minutes. It’s a shame I can’t identify the source because this is a great tea! The leaves have more stem attached then I’ve ever seen before, but the resulting tea is delicious! It’s probably an unflavored milk oolong. This second infusion is creamy! Mmm, yum! This is soooo good! It’s really hitting the spot. I’d rate it a 92.

Boiling 1 min, 0 sec

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This is completely unacceptable. Malnourished children are dying on tea farms in India! I absolutely love tea but I am absolutely appalled at the horrible living conditions of these tea workers in Assam. We need to demand better conditions and higher wages for these workers. Stop the child labor! I will no longer buy tea from the following companies: Twinings, Lipton, Tetleys, Yorkshire Tea, Harrods, Fortnum and Mason, Doomur Dullung, and PG Tips.



Thank you so much for posting this.

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The dry leaves have virtually no aroma. That’s interesting for a roasted tea. I’d expect there to be a nice roasty toasty aroma dry or wet. Wow, the brewed tea aroma is so unexpected! Again, I expected something roasted like houjicha. But instead I was greeted by a baked squash aroma! It really smells like freshly roasted vegetables. It smells like food! Not tea! Pumpkin. Yes, this tastes like baked pumpkin. There’s a tiny bit of saltiness too that reminds me of toasted pumpkin seeds.

The flavor deepens in the next infusions. It’s rich and malty, full-bodied with a round mouthfeel. I’m definitely getting the chocolate notes now and they’re only getting stronger. I brewed this in my gaiwan and didn’t strain the leaves with a strainer. I just used the gaiwan lid to keep the majority of the leaves out of the cups. I read somewhere on Verdant’s blog that not using an additional strainer can change the mouthfeel of the tea. So I decided to give it a try. Little bits of leaves do end up in each cup, but it’s not bothering me. I wonder if the sediment and leaf bits are steeping the tea longer or if they’re too small to make much of a difference.

This tea definitely benefits from lots of quick steeps. Infusing these leaves for even a few seconds too long can result in a bitter cup. I’m not very familiar with roasted oolongs, but this strikes me as more of a black tea than an oolong. Drinking this when it’s piping hot results in a very nice mouthfeel. It’s like that prickly sensation you feel when you first get into a hot car that’s been sitting in the sun for a few hours and the warmth of the air prickles as it rushes over your skin. I like the sensation and it lingers after the sip.

I think this is the first time I’ve detected a cherry note in a tea. This is really good! It reminds me of Laoshan Black. They’re quite similar teas. In fact, I wish I had some so I could do a side-by-side comparison. I think I like this more than Laoshan Black actually. This is truly chocolaty in a way that many unflavored teas claim to be but aren’t. I love this! Thank goodness I have one more sample. I’d be sad if this was my first and last cup. And let me say that these leaves go for a long, long time! I’m getting many more infusions than I usually do with any tea and they’re staying flavorful. After approximately 15+ infusions, I’ve lost count. These later cups are chocolate and caramel with a silky finish. I think the sandalwood is peaking out a bit more now too. Oooh, yes! This is my kind of tea!


Flavors: Butternut Squash, Caramel, Cherry, Chocolate, Malt, Pumpkin, Vegetables, Wood

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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I was in the mall doing some last minute birthday shopping for my husband when I stumbled upon a small tea and spice shop. I’ve never heard of them but I’m not one to pass up new teas. I perused their offerings and ended up buying an ounce of this tea and some chili coffee spice for my husband.

The dry leaf aroma is sweeter and more floral than the brewed tea aroma. They both smell amazing though! I first tried it sans additions and then I added a little bit of Truvia. Wow! This is AMAZING! It’s creamy and delicious! This tea is floral with the perfect amount of bergamot. Honestly, this has the best bergamot flavoring I’ve ever had in an Earl Grey. The base is quiet and takes a backseat to the flavorings. But it’s not at all bitter and doesn’t need milk like most Earl Greys I’ve tried.

This tea is so tasty! The cream flavoring really kicks it up a notch. It’s so yummy and has the perfect balance of flavors. The second infusion for five minutes is just as delicious as the first! I think I’ve found a new love. I am gonna’ burn through this ounce! Must have MORE!

Boiling 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Aw I’m sad to see they have only this one tea on Steepster!


I added it myself. Their website is pretty much empty too. I think they’re a fairly new business and only have this one brick and mortar store in MD.


Hmmm that’s too bad. Well it sounds promising anyhow :)

Chai (not Kai) Mera

This sounds excellent (and they offer free shipping). Sadly the website doesn’t have much in the way of descriptions, though. So if you try any of their other teas, please share reviews? :)


I definitely will!

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The dry leaf aroma sure smells like blackberries! Oddly enough, the brewed tea has no aroma whatsoever. Thank goodness that doesn’t translate into a flavorless tea! The sip is clean, hay-like white tea with a punch of vanilla and a subtle hint of blackberry. I’m definitely getting more cream than berry in the cup. This is good! It’s not big on flavor but all the expected notes are there. The berry comes out more as it cools. I will enjoy the rest of this one but I don’t think I’ll re-purchase it. I simply have too much tea!

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

I was going to try this tea tonight. Curious if I get the same flavors.


Let me know if you do!

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drank Eggnog Yunan by 52teas
633 tasting notes

Time for another 52teas oldie. I love a good Yunnan black tea so I couldn’t pass this up. The dry leaf aroma is cinnamon. The beginning of the sip is somewhat dark and woodsy like a high quality Yunnan. But unfortunately that fades rather quickly and I’m left with a slightly floral, marigold petal flavor. I don’t think I’ve ever had eggnog so I can’t identify similarities or differences.

Overall, this is much calmer and less flavorful than I was expecting. The cinnamon is quite light and doesn’t contribute much spiciness to the cup. There is a little bit of creaminess. There’s no bitterness and I don’t feel the need to add sweetener or milk. A small amount of astringency is apparent but nothing off-putting. That’s about it. Not a nuanced cuppa but nothing offensive going on either. It’s just rather boring.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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reviewed The IQ Kettle by Breville
633 tasting notes

Yay!! My new kettle is here!! This is the first electric kettle I’ve ever bought and it is exactly what I’ve been looking for! I love that it’s simple and easy to use. It’s sleek and stylish. And most importantly, the pre-set brewing temperatures are exactly what I like to use to brew various types of tea.

I used to enjoy the laborious, time consuming ritual of boiling water on my stovetop, pouring it into a cup and adding a thermometer, waiting till the water reached just the right temperature and then adding the leaves, then waiting some more for the tea to steep, and finally FINALLY having a finished ready-to-drink cup of tea. Well, now that I have a baby…ain’t nobody got time for that!

Now with just the click of a button, I can have water that’s just the right temperature for my cup in no time at all. This thing boils water FAST! It also lets off a lot of steam so I don’t recommend putting it directly underneath your cabinetry. I do wish it kept the water warm longer than 20 minutes but that’s not a huge dealbreaker.

I’d say that’s my biggest critique of this kettle. The keep warm function isn’t entirely logical or intuitive to use. If you lift the kettle off the base, it automatically shuts off the keep warm function. You can press it again but it goes off within a couple minutes. So I guess you have to reselect the temperature each time you lift it off the base? That’s silly. Still, it’s better than what I’ve been doing. I’ll take pressing a button over my old routine any day. This kettle rocks! Now I just have to resist the urge to buy one for the office…


Congrats on the new kettle! You definitely deserve to treat yourself to a good one after all this time. :)


I LOVE my variable temp kettle! I don’t think I’ll ever go back to a simple kettle ever again since I’ve been spoiled :)


My thoughts exactly. :) Thanks!

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First note! I can’t believe no one has written about this tea before. Does that mean I’m the only one to have purchased it so far? I highly recommend you trot on over to Verdant’s new website and check out this tea’s story. There’s a very interesting video about how they cultivate the wild tea trees and how they prefer to process the tea by hand and lay it out to dry in the sun because it creates a better flavor.

I used my gaiwan to brew this gongfu style. I started with a 6 second steep and added 3 seconds to each subsequent infusion. Towards the end I lost count and ended up steeping this for a couple minutes. The early infusions have a light yellow liquor that deepens with each subsequent steep into a dark golden amber.

This may be a Yunnan Black, but it tastes like Puer to me. The primary note is aged leather, which is definitely a puer flavor note in my experience. There’s a minor underlying note of spice in the later infusions, which I’m really enjoying. It’s a dark woodsy tea. The description says it’s farmed in the oldest tea forest in the world and I feel like you can taste that in the tea. It has a strong presence and evokes the kind of reverence owed to a wise elder.

I can’t say I understand or agree with Verdant’s other flavor notes on this one though. It’s described as “very vegetal” akin to “tulsi” and “floral” like “orange blossom honey.” I’ve never had tulsi so I don’t know what that tastes like. But I have had plenty of vegetal teas and I wouldn’t use that word to describe this. Similarly, I have had lots of floral teas and I wouldn’t necessarily use that word to describe this either. There is something honey-esque in the cup but nothing overtly flowery. I’m interested to find out what others detect in this tea. Get some and see for yourself! For me, I will enjoy this sample but won’t be buying more. It’s not a flavor profile that I particularly desire.

Flavors: Dark Wood, Leather, Spices

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 147 ML
Jim Marks

Glad I’m not the only one who gets sheng pu-erh from this tea!

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Entering the sweet blissful world of tea aromas!

Having discovered this website at the end of July 2011, I’m so excited to share my tea adventures with all of you! I grew up with my grandmother serving Twining’s English Breakfast with cream and sugar.

But on a trip to Seattle in 2010, I stumbled into a Chinese teashop and tried my first oolong tea. I was forever changed! I embarked on a startling new love for green and white teas.

With a world of teas to discover, I was inspired to keep a tea journal to record my thoughts and new favorites. Let’s get brewing!

My ratings are completely subjective and 100% my opinion. All ratings are given in relation to each other (ie. teas are rated in the order of my enjoyment of them). Therefore, my ratings will constantly change as I try more teas.

I love swapping!!! If you see something in my cupboard you’d like to try, just send me a message. If you’d like to trade, anything on my shopping list will do or feel free to send something else entirely. I’m willing to try almost anything (although I’m not really a fan of honeybush, red rooibos, pu’erh, Lapsang Souchong, & banana-flavored teas).


Maryland, USA

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