582 Tasting Notes

drank Chai Spiced Apple by Twinings
582 tasting notes

Pro: great blend of chai spices. Con: not very strong.

This kind of tastes like watered down hot apple cider. I wish it were stronger. The spices are nice, and I can taste the apple. But it’s just not quite there enough for my liking.

I added a small amount of milk & sweetener, and it did bring out the apple a little more. But I think I’ll make this again with 2 teabags.

Overall: good, not great.

Boiling 6 min, 0 sec

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drank White Symphony by Adagio Teas
582 tasting notes

The dry leaves smelled very hay-like, quite similar to the White Peony. But as soon as the leaves were wet, they smelled completely different! More like steamed vegetables. The liquor is very pale and almost colorless.

The taste actually mimics the flavor of the dry leaves. Primarily, I taste hay in the sip and steamed veggies in the aftertaste. I’m actually surprised how long the flavors linger. And the flavor just keeps changing, even though there’s no tea in my mouth! It’s insanity!

It’s sweet and complex and delicious. There’s one element I’m tasting that’s almost like half and half, but very light and subtle. So good! This tea just keeps changing and showing me new dimensions.

Hmm, but the second steep is a little disappointing. It seems to have lost all of its complexity and layered flavors.

I’m a little confused on steeping time though. I’ve seen completely contradictory information on the Internet. One site said to steep the leaves for over 5 minutes, even up to 15 minutes on the first steep. Another site said to steep the leaves for only 1 minute or less. What gives? Can anyone give me some advice?

Here’s what I did: 1st steep at 185 degrees for 2 minutes. 2nd steep at 180 degrees for 4 minutes. 3rd steep at 180 degrees for 9 minutes.

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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drank Kava Stress Relief by Yogi Tea
582 tasting notes

WARNING: Read the label before drinking this tea!

Where to start? This is my first Yogi tea. This one in particular was recommended to me by a friend. It’s advertised to “ease tension and promote relaxation.*” The asterisk elaborates that “These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.” Fairly standard language. I actually work for the FDA, so I’m used to seeing this kind of disclaimer on products. What I wasn’t prepared for were the major warnings listed on the tea packet:

“Ask a health care professional before use if you have or have had liver problems, frequently use alcoholic beverages or are taking any medication. Stop use and see a doctor if you develop symptoms that may signal liver problems (e.g., unexplained fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, fever, vomiting, dark urine, pale stools, yellow eyes or skin). Not for use by persons under 18 years of age or by pregnant or breastfeeding women. Not for use with alcoholic beverages. Excessive use or use with products that cause drowsiness may impair your ability to operate a vehicle or heavy equipment.”

JEEZ!!!!! And these warnings are contradicted by the advertisements on the box:

“We think before we blend. How will our recipes work with body and mind?” And “Health is found in nature. We work with what nature already offers rather than trying to concoct it. We don’t have laboratories. We have kitchens.” And “For a stronger effect, use 2 tea bags. On especially challenging days, drink 3 to 4 cups.”

So, first you warn me not to drink it excessively. Then you tell me to use 2 tea bags and drink 3-4 cups a day. Isn’t that somewhat excessive?

Additionally, you tell me not to drink it if I’m taking ANY medications at all. How can you expect the average consumer not to be taking any medications at all? What specifically are you trying to warn me against combining? Should I not drink this if I take an Advil? Should I not drink this if I’m on birth control? Should I not drink this if I’m on cholesterol or blood pressure medication? Does this tea really interfere with ANY medication that I take? Giving a warning that vaguely lumps all medications together seems fishy.

This is scary! My first impression was that the tea smelled weird. There’s something a little off about it. But I generally get that impression with herbal teas, so I didn’t dwell on it. I took a sip and found that even though it smelled funky, I could only taste hot cinnamon water. I’m really not getting any other flavors at all. Just cinnamon.

But after reading the box, I’m afraid to drink any more of it! Especially because I can’t taste that funky thing I’m smelling. I’m afraid of what this “tea” will do to my body. I don’t drink alcohol very often, but just the possibility that drinking this tea will hurt my liver is a huge concern!

I thought tea was supposed to be healthy. I thought tea was supposed to be good for you. All I’ve ever heard are the positive impacts of drinking tea (with the exception that it inhibits the body’s ability to absorb iron).

What the heck is this in my cup?? I personally have not had any ill effects from the two tiny sips I’ve consumed today. But I warn everyone out there, beware of Yogi teas!

A tea that requires this much warning before consumption isn’t normal. I’m tempted to alert my FDA colleagues to this tea just because a warning label might not be sufficient for keeping an unsafe product on the market.
Consumer beware!

Boiling 8 min or more

Did they include an ingredients list amongst all other claims, precautions and warning labels?


INGREDIENTS: Carob Pod, Indian Sarsaparilla Root, Organic Cinnamon Bark, Organic Ginger Root, Organic Barley Malt, Kava Root Extract (Kavalactones 30%), Organic Cardamom Seed, Natural Hazelnut Flavor, Stevia Leaf, Natural Licorice Flavor, Natural Cinnamon Oil.


The only other problem I can see from Yogi Teas (and it’s not just them, but a lot of herbal blends) is that oftentimes they use licorice root to sweeten and balance out flavors that many people would find too bitter. Licorice root can destroy potassium levels easily, so it’s not the best thing to use so loosely.


The warning comes from the Kava Kava root. Personally, I think it’s a bit exaggerated, especially in the amount they’re probably using. Kava Kava root isn’t really extracted well in water anyway (the native people chew the root and their saliva breaks down the kavalactones). There’s no need to make this tea a daily tea- they really should be more specific- but there’s no reason to be alarmed in consuming every now and then.


Kava is ranked among the top 10 herbs sold in the United States and Europe. In a double-blind clinical study testing Kava’s reputed stress relieving properties, Kava was proven not to relieve anxiety more than the placebo (study conducted in 2005 by the University of California: San Francisco). Conclusion: There’s no reason to risk your liver in the hope that you’ll be less stressed out. Drink a different tea!


Kava came under the FDA’s scrutiny after a number of European reports that it might cause damage to the liver – including hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure. German & Swiss health authorities have identified approximately 30 such cases, including four cases requiring transplantation, and one death. As a result, regulatory agencies in Germany, Switzerland, France, Canada, & the U.K., have taken actions ranging from warning consumers about the potential risks of kava use, to removing kava-containing products from the marketplace. In the U.S., FDA has received several reports of kava-related liver damage, including a report of a previously healthy young woman who required a liver transplant. Although the incidence appears to be rare, FDA believes consumers should be informed of potential risks.

Charles Thomas Draper

Ok, I don’t drink the tea but I have been taking Kava from Kona Kava for years now. I enjoy this at the end of a long time as some people enjoy alcohol. Like anything else, listen to your body….

Jeanette Lowe Hafke

I started drinking this (my Mom bought it for me) when i thought I was having stress and “stomach” issues. I had several incidents I had supposed were ulcer attacks. These attacks consisted of a cannonball like pain in my stomach, with nausea, vomiting (1x per “attack”) As time went on these “attacks” became more frequent, more painful, longer in duration and shorter span between these attacks. I became more and more fatigued. I was STILL sure it was an ulcer due to current major life stressors.

I JUST spent 95% of my vacation in the hospita, out of state (Sunday —> Tuesday) . This final attack that sent me running to the ER? ALSO had orange urine, started going jaundice, fever, in addition to cannonball like pain in my stomach, nausea, vomiting (5x this “attack”), and horrific pain throughout my back.

Liver levels? 30x normal. Should have been 30, they were 900. I have had tests up the wazoo (MRI, Sono, Vascular Sono, CT scans, Endsoscope)

Note: I had been drinking several Teavana teas prior and while using this tea. Did some Teavana tea actually start an issue it and this made it way worse? Or was it just Teavana all along? I don’t know for sure… I have had more blood and tests than I care to say in the last 5 days. I had to get back home to my doc to follow up. I now have to see a GI to follow up as well. I’m MUCH better, but still very far from alright and still in some level of pain and discomfort.

Be very careful with ANY herbals, even as innocent as they may seem … I didn’t read the label as I didn’t buy this, but boy I wish I had …


Wow, Jeanette. I am so sorry to hear about your experience, and I hope you start feeling better soon. If you think this was in any way related to the tea that you’ve been drinking, please take a moment to report it to the FDA. Information on who to contact is contained at this link: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/ReportaProblem/ConsumerComplaintCoordinators/default.htm

Please keep us updated here too. The Steepster community is always here for you, and if there’s anything we can do, just let us know. I’ll pray for your recovery.

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drank Lotus by Tazo
582 tasting notes

It’s a Tazo tea day!

Hmm, this doesn’t taste much like a green tea. The liquor is very dark, golden/amber in color. It reminds me of the color of honey.

It actually tastes a little like honey too. But not the honey from bees, more like agave nectar. With a little sweetener, it’s drinkable. But not delicious.

Strange, this. I’m getting a bitter taste that’s reminiscient of oversteeping a lower quality tea. Really no grassy greenness at all. Not much in the way of floral lotus either (unless lotus smells/tastes like agave nectar).

It’s too bad they market this as a green tea. The average American consumer who has never tried real green tea will be led astray by this imposter.

It’s back to my loose leaf stores at home! No more mass marketed bagged teas for me!

185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 30 sec
Charles Thomas Draper

If it contains Lotus it will have a similar effect to Kava. It’s also called the narcotic of the Nile….


Kava is nothing like Lotus. Blue Lotus has mild psycho-active properties and can act as a mild sedative. Kava interacts with medication and can kill your liver (thus killing you). They are completely different substances.

Charles Thomas Draper

yes of course they are completely different. As far as it killing your liver, I believe that started in Germany where they were using other parts of the plant other than the root.


None of the studies I read applied only to one part of the Kava. It’s probably safest just to not risk it.

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This is one of the best drinks I’ve ever had in my entire life! Don’t bother to drink this tea hot without the lemonade. Suffice it to say, it’s not a pleasant experience (see oozing rose hips: http://steepster.com/Charoma/posts/85951).

But this, THIS is my one true love!


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drank Passion by Tazo
582 tasting notes

This tea has me a little frightened. It looks like red wine, and rose hips oozed out of the tea bag when I squeezed it! Here we go again with the oozing rose hips!!!

I’ve had this tea before as an Iced Passion Tea Lemonade at Starbucks. But I’ve never tried to drink it hot and by itself.

Wow! That is tart! I think it needs the lemonade to dilute and sweeten it. This is much stronger than I would have expected from an herbal tea.

I’m actually not even sure if I can drink it like this. It’s giving me an instant headache. I think I’ll stick with the Starbucks creation instead.

It’s so strange because it is AMAZING iced with lemonade. This is a completely different experience. If you told me this was the same tea as in the Starbucks creation, I wouldn’t believe it. Crazy.

If it goes down the drain, it gets a rating of 10 or less. Sorry Passion tea. :(

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 30 sec

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drank White Peony by Adagio Teas
582 tasting notes

The dry leaves smell just like hay, but that’s a positive for me (I grew up riding horses). The brewed tea has a light hay smell with an added component. The tea, I’m assuming.

Wow, this tea is interesting. I’m getting so many flavors! One of the flavors is almost like lightly toasted pumpkin seeds. Yum!! Of course, now that I’ve picked out that flavor and identified it, I can’t taste anything else.

Mmm, but this is good. Really different from any of the other teas I’ve had. I’m not even sure I’ve ever had white tea before! This might be my first!

I didn’t know what to expect, but I guess I thought it would be like an oolong. More vegetal, but less grassy. That’s what I thought anyway.

This isn’t grassy or vegetal at all. It’s a unique flavor all of its own. I’m really impressed, and I think I’ll be drinking this a whole lot more. First white tea is a success!

190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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The dry leaves smell exactly like grape fruit snacks. I can’t stop sniffing the bag! The aroma of the brewed tea is heavenly! I can still detect the grape smell, but it’s underneath a lovely grassiness from the oolong. I can’t wait to try this!

Oh, wow! I think this is going to be a new favorite. I can’t believe how good this is! (Thus, the overuse of exclamation marks)!!!!

This is Lupicia’s tea of the month, and therefore a free sample. Grapes seem to be the theme. The newsletter lists all of their grape teas and talks about how grapes have been added to tea for years.

I’ve tried Lupicia’s Muscat tea, a grape-flavored black tea, in the past and found it undesirable. The grape was too overpowering and candy-like.

But this is delicately flavored! I can still taste the grassy oolong underneath (which actually makes it taste more like a flavored green tea than an oolong). The grape is much more subtle in the taste than in the aroma. The aroma is like gummy snacks, but the taste is more like the grape taste in wine. In fact, it could do with a little more grape!

I’m not so sure about that “clean, crisp finish” though. The finish is a little bitter to me, thus the lower rating of an otherwise wonderful tea. Perhaps a shorter steeping time would remedy that?

Nonetheless, adding this to my list of teas to buy…Thank you, Lupicia!

185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 45 sec

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drank Formosa Oolong #8 by Adagio Teas
582 tasting notes

This tea had me worried. It brewed up exactly like the Formosa Bai Hao #40 with the unmistakable aroma of a salty peanut shell.

But as soon as I tasted it, I got a much sweeter liquor than expected with a buttery mouthfeel. It does have that nutty peanut shell taste in the background, but almost like it’s an afterthought.

It’s nice that the peanut shell is taking a backseat and letting other flavors come to the foreground. Not what I was expecting at all from that aroma!

By the way, I think what I call “salty peanut shell” is what others call “woodsy” or “earthy.” I keep seeing those descriptions pop up on these formosa oolongs, and I think that must be what I’m experiencing too. It’s just too pronounced to be overlooked. Woodsy. Hmmm…

Second steep yields a less woodsy but still deep, amber colored liquor. Third steep was the least woodsy and fairly bland.

Good, but still not the best oolong from Adagio’s Dragon Sampler. My favorite is definitely Wuyi Ensemble. Wuyi Ensemble has a much more classic oolong, vegetal taste and benefits the most from multiple infusions.

190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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drank Pouchong by Adagio Teas
582 tasting notes

Mmm, this is really hitting the spot tonight.

There’s slightly more astringency than I remember, but the quietness is just what I needed after a hard week. It’s a light oolong that I have learned to appreciate.

190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 15 sec

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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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