3986 Tasting Notes


Sipdown! (5 | 418)

Not sure why I ordered this one either, I’ve tried it before and didn’t love it. Maybe I remembered liking it more than I actually did ha ha…

I am actually raising the rating a bit, as I feel like it’s more flavorful than I described it in my first note. Maybe the second batch had more plum flavoring? I can distinctly taste the fruit this time, and it does remind me of plum specifically. Then the cinnamon adds warmth and makes it a bit festive. The base is a bit tannic, but I also accidentally oversteeped it a bit. Deb’s black base does tend to be on the brisk side anyway, so I’m not surprised by that.

Still not one I’m clamoring to repurchase, but better than a 58 (my previous rating). Enjoyable cuppa for the holiday/winter season.

Flavors: Acidic, Astringent, Brisk, Candy, Cinnamon, Fruity, Plum, Stonefruit, Sweet, Tannic, Tart

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Sipdown! (4 | 417)

I’m not sure why I ordered this one. Intrigued by the combination of hojicha and matcha maybe? It has a very strong coconut smell in the bag, luckily I’m not finding much coconut in the flavor. But I’m not finding much else either. Mostly it tastes like a very generic hojicha, and I don’t even notice a lot of matcha (even though it’s a very unappealing murky brown-green color ha ha). It’s just sort of bland and boring?

Not awful or anything, just very meh.

Flavors: Dry Grass, Hay, Roasted, Twigs, Woody

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Another one from the winter subscription box, and another one that I already own! I have a small tin of this from the New Mexico gift box, from my very first Old Barrel order at the beginning of this year.

It’s really just such a nice tea. I wasn’t sure what to expect from it, not generally being a fan of chile in tea. But it’s such a lovely mellow and slightly sweet balance of cinnamon, anise, cocoa, and smooth green tea with just a touch of green chile flavor. It’s supposed to be shortbread-inspired (the biscochito being a cinnamon and anise flavored shortbread cookie), but I don’t really get that. There is a sweetness to it, and those nice warm spices, but nothing really cookie-ish IMO. Not that I mind at all, I love it just the way it is!

Really loving going back and revisiting some of these lovely Old Barrel teas that I’ve been neglecting due to sipdown madness ha ha.

Flavors: Anise, Bell Pepper, Cacao, Chili, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Dry Grass, Hay, Smooth, Spices, Sweet

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Sipdown! (2 | 415)

The other free sample from my recent order.

Sadly, this is mostly just peppermint and sugar to me. There is a hint of a blueberry note, but I’m not convinced that I would notice it if I wasn’t expecting it to be there. The dominant flavor is quite herbaceous peppermint along with the sweetness from the maple/brown sugar. It’s not quite wet rag, though there is maybe a twinge of that in the finish, but it’s not the freshest mint either.

Anyway, it’s fine but certainly not something I would order.

Flavors: Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Herbaceous, Mint, Musty, Peppermint, Sugar, Sweet, Syrupy

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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I was actually happy to see this one in the winter subscription, because I’ve looked at it several times on their website, but just never wanted it enough to order a full tin. To be honest, my first thought when I saw it was “doesn’t Adagio make this?” There are a few teas that Old Barrel carries that seem (to me) like they might be sourced from Adagio, like the Mocha Maté and some of their fruit blends. Could also just be me being overly suspicious though, ha ha. Anyway, this does not have the same ingredients as the Adagio version, so I assume it’s not the same one.

I was a bit nervous to try this to be honest, because the puerh smelled a bit funky in the tin. I’ve loved all of their other puerhs that I’ve tried, but this has a much higher proportion of puerh than most. Luckily, it doesn’t taste funky to me. I mostly taste the earthy puerh base, with subtle strawberry and creamy nut flavors. The strawberry seems a bit candylike, but it’s difficult to tell since it’s quite mild.

Overall, it’s fine but not my favorite, as I’m not really a plain puerh lover, and that’s mostly what I’m tasting. Will probably add this to the rehoming box, so hopefully someone else can enjoy it.

Flavors: Candy, Creamy, Earthy, Mineral, Nutty, Smooth, Strawberry, Thick, Woody

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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Sipdown! (1 | 414)

Finally got around to entering my Dessert by Deb order into my spreadsheet. I had placed it around the end of September, excited for all the new hojicha teas for fall, and then I didn’t end up actually receiving it until the end of November, by which time I was no longer in fall mode, and was getting in gear for advents. So by then I just wasn’t excited for it anymore. Anyway, all that to say, because of that I neglected to catalog the teas or even open the box until recently.

This was one of the free samples Deb included, and one of the few hojicha blends I didn’t order because it just didn’t sound good to me, and because of the rooibos. And that was a good decision, because it’s just not very interesting. The rooibos mostly overpowers the hojicha, and the pineapple flavor is quite muted, so mostly it ends up tasting like woody rooibos with a hint of roast and a touch of candy pineapple. Oh, and a bit of cinnamon.

I think it could’ve maybe been nice if it was just a hojicha? Not sure why this one needed three different bases tbh. Oh well, always nice to get free samples!

Flavors: Candy, Cinnamon, Pineapple, Roasted, Rooibos, Smooth, Sweet, Toasty, Woody

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Now that advent calendars are all done, time to finally break into my December tea club shipment from Old Barrel! They’re probably my favorite new-to-me company for this year, and I thought it would be fun to try their subscription. They only send out boxes on a quarterly basis, so I made sure to sign up in time for the December box, since fall and winter are my favorite seasons, in general and in terms of tea releases!

Anyway, starting off with a favorite. This is their winter seasonal tea, and I already have a tin of it, but I love it so I was disappointed to receive another one. It’s essentially a peppermint mocha puerh, with coffee, mint, and chocolate flavors. But I love that it’s not too sweet, and the coffee part comes from real coffee beans and grounds. It melds so seamlessly with the smooth puerh base, and then the rich cocoa and fresh mint just dance over the top. It’s just so stinkin’ good! Perfectly balanced, and I can taste all of the flavors (including the oak chips) without anything competing with or overpowering anything else. There is flavoring, I assume probably chocolate and/or mint, but I don’t notice any of that artificial chocolate taste so that’s a win for me. :P

Excited to try the other five teas from the box! I have tried one of them and parts of some others before. I find it so interesting that Old Barrel offers blends of their own teas – so for example, one of the teas in this box is Blueberry & Vanilla Rooibos, and it’s a half-and-half mixture of their Blueberry fruit tisane and their Vanilla Rooibos. They also offer blended teas like this in their shop. Just seems like an interesting way to expand their selection without having to blend new teas. Will be interested to try!

Flavors: Cocoa, Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Earthy, Fresh, Mint, Oak, Peppermint, Rich, Roasted, Smooth, Sweet, Toasty, Woody

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

Oooh very tempting tea subscription, how much tea in each tin? I might have to jump on for the March box.

Cameron B.

It’s hard to say, because it seems like they use the labels that are pre-printed for their full-size tins, so the printed weight is wrong? And they tend to just fill up the tins, so the weight is always different for each tea anyway. If I had to guess, I would say anywhere between 25-50g each depending on how light the tea is.

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Thésaurus Tea Fandom Advent Calendar 2023 – Day 25

Happy Holidays, tea people! I hope everyone is warm and happy and enjoying a bit of time off work.

I wouldn’t normally have a green tea this early in the day, but I wanted to get this last advent tea done before I inevitably forgot about it. XD

This has fruit pieces and other stuff in it, but mostly I just get the peppermint and the lemongrass with a bit of green tea underneath. A bit of an overly herbaceous peppermint as well, without much of that fresh minty finish. Definitely a disappointing end to this advent.

And speaking of this advent… It was quite hit-or-miss for me. There were a few ingredients that were very prevalent, like butterfly pea flower and fennel. Which isn’t the end of the world, it just speaks to a lack of variety. There were some blends I really liked, but also a lot that were quite meh. However, my biggest gripe with this advent is the portion size. Such a tiny amount of tea, enough for only about a 6-ounce cup in my experience, which is even less than the two sachet advents I had. It just seemed super stingy to me, especially when a lot of the butterfly pea flower blends seemed like they were 70% butterfly pea in the package. I understand the price point was very good, but I would rather pay a bit more and have a reasonable amount of tea per day. I would consider doing the holiday version of this advent, but I don’t think I will because of the tea volume issue. That being said, I probably will end up ordering some teas because there were several that I really liked.

Flavors: Earthy, Grassy, Herbaceous, Lemongrass, Mint, Musty, Peppermint

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

Happy Holidays!


Oh yeah, since I use three teaspoons for a serving of tea, whenever companies provide tiny samples, I always have to do annoying math to figure out how much water/how small of a mug to use :P

Cameron B.

I usually use about a tablespoon for a 16-ounce serving as well.

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DIY Kyoto Obubu Advent Calendar – Day 24

Happy Christmas Eve, tea friends!

Currently lounging on the couch with puglets in my lap, watching Polar Express with a big mug of this tea alongside a mug of hot chocolate from my Whittard advent calendar. Pure bliss, ha ha…

This is perhaps my favorite from Obubu, such a soft and mellow hojicha with sweet honey/maple syrup notes, hints of dried fruit, and that toasty autumn leaf base that just warms the soul. I certainly knew what I was doing when I saved this tea for Day 24, he he…

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Dried Fruit, Fruity, Maple, Mineral, Roasted, Smooth, Sweet, Tart, Toasty, Woody

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 5 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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drank Holiday Mist Green Tea by 52teas
3986 tasting notes

52teas 12 Teas of Christmas 2023 – Day 12

Ooh, interesting. I assume this is a riff on Graveyard Mist, which I think is a spearmint and marshmallow green tea? I’ve had it, but it’s been a while ha ha… Smells very orangey in the bag.

There’s definitely citrus, I think it’s reading as orange to me? I honestly don’t get any marshmallow or creaminess at all, but that’s fairly normal for me with marshmallow root. So mostly getting orange (?) on a mellow, grassy sencha base, along with a touch of mint. It’s pleasant enough, I just wish there was more mint and more marshmallow.

Flavors: Citrus, Dry Grass, Grassy, Mint, Orange, Spearmint, Sweet

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Hi, I’m Cameron! I’m a 30-something software engineer currently living in Austin, Texas with my husband and our two pugs, Gobo and Ume. I tend to cycle between my different hobbies, and they include piano, knitting, video games, board games, miniature painting, planners, bento, KBeauty, and – of course – TEA! But really, what I’m best at is “collecting” hobby-related things… ;)

- January Sipdowns: 6
- Total 2024 Sipdowns: 6

I prefer my tea lukewarm or at room temperature and without milk or sugar. I steep Western style, and fluctuate between using big mugs or small teapots depending on the season. Occasionally I’ll brew Gongfu style when I’m in the mood. I’ll also often use a kyusu for Japanese teas.

I am always up for a swap! Just let me know if you’d like to try something in my cupboard.

Tea Preferences:
I enjoy both flavored and unflavored teas in many forms. These days, I drink mostly flavored teas, and I tend to gravitate most toward black, green, oolong, and herbal varieties. I do have a special fondness for straight Japanese green teas, however. I also enjoy maté, rooibos, and honeybush. I love matcha and drink it often! Fruit tisanes are not a favorite, but I’m always willing to try them.

I do not sweeten my teas, and pre-sweetened teas are usually too sweet for me. I also do not enjoy stevia.

Fruit: All of them! My ‘go-to’s tend to be in the red fruits, stonefruit, or citrus spectra. I also really love apple, banana, berry, fig, lychee, melon, pear, and rhubarb flavors. Tropical fruits aren’t among my favorites, but I still enjoy them once in a while – especially passionfruit, mango, and pineapple. I am not generally a fan of coconut in tea, though there are some exceptions.

Dessert: I love creamy vanilla and marshmallow flavors, along with anything in the caramel family such as butterscotch, toffee, or maple. Chocolate is also a favorite, though I’m often disappointed by it in tea. And don’t forget anything buttery, cakey, or cookie-y!

Floral: I’m a little bit more particular in this category. I very much enjoy jasmine, even strong jasmine, along with sakura, chamomile, and elderflower. Osmanthus is also a favorite of mine. But I’m not crazy about rose or lavender flavors, and I prefer hibiscus in moderation only.

Spices: I don’t generally find myself drawn to masala chai, but I do enjoy spices combined with other flavors. My favorite spices are the warm ones, especially cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, and cardamom. A bit of heat from black pepper or chili is okay too, as long as it’s not overwhelming! Ginger can be a lovely accent, but I find it difficult to drink as a starring flavor.

Aromatics: I’m obsessed with Earl Grey! I also love cooling flavors such as mint (especially spearmint), pine, juniper, and eucalyptus. I am not a fan of strong rosemary or sage in tea.

Favorite Companies:
3 Leaf
Bird & Blend
Dammann Frères
Harney & Sons
Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms
Old Barrel Tea Co
Simpson & Vail
Taiwan Tea Crafts

Tea Rating Scale:
90-100: Outstanding! Permanent cupboard resident
80-89: Great – a possible staple
70-79: Good, but I wouldn’t buy it
60-69: It’s decent
50-59: Meh… I may or may not have finished the cup
40-49: Ick. Couldn’t finish it.
00-39: Repulsive, I spat it out

I will sometimes refrain from rating a tea if I feel I’m too biased due to my personal dislikes, or if I suspect the sample has been compromised by age or scent contamination.

Cupboard Spreadsheet:


Austin, Texas



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