242 Tasting Notes


TeaTiff was nice enough to send me a generous sample of this tea. It says on their website that this tea is from Yunnan, but the leaves look Taiwanese to me. They have that long, twisty, spindly look and they’re quite dark. Smells strongly of dry, unsweetened cocoa and honey with some maltiness.

Initially, I followed the directions on Hugo Tea’s website and steeped for 4 minutes. The aroma was malty with honey, but there was also a kind of peppery, herbaceous quality that reminded me of fennel seed. And it turns out, that’s exactly what it tastes like too! Very similar to pumpernickel or rye bread with a strong fennel seed taste, along with some malt and an aftertaste of dry cocoa. Wow, this tea is so unique-tasting! I kept taking sips just to experience the fennel phenomenon again!

After reading some of the notes on here, I decided to also try a 3 minute steep since a lot of people did that and mentioned more chocolate and caramel notes. Aroma was more cocoa and honey and less fennel this time. It definitely tasted less fennel-y, but I didn’t really find a lot more cocoa or honey in there. So I definitely prefer the 4 minute steep! And it’s much more honeyed with just a small amount of sugar. Pumpernickel bread with honey smeared over the top, mmmm!

Flavors: Cocoa, Fennel Seed, Honey, Malt, Rye

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

I should try it at 4 min. Sadly it’s at home:(

Cameron B.

Well, definitely try it if you don’t hate fennel seeds. :P It’s quite unique.


I got no fennel at all! Strange how some flavors are common across notes and some are not. :) Last time Hugo Tea responded to one of my reviews they said it was a blend of Yunnans so maybe some of them look like Taiwanese leaves! :)

Cameron B.

It’s probably just a variety of Yunnan that I’ve never seen. All of the other ones I’ve had have been somewhat thin, curly leaves. :P

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Thanks so much to Green Terrace Teas for the free sample! I’ve been excited to try this one since I saw Marzipan’s lovely note about it. :) I now wish I had requested the Li Shan black tea as well! Oh well. This is a Taiwanese black tea, and the only other one I’ve tried is flavored (very well flavored, thanks to Butiki!). This type of tea receives a lot of love around here, so I was keen to see what all the fuss was about. The leaves are black and spidery, perhaps a bit shorter than the other, and there are a few stems. They smell more like maple syrup than honey to me, which is not a complaint! There’s also a strange metallic scent that I think might be from the foil packaging? I did about 3 minutes at 200 degrees.

The aroma is definitely all honey now! There’s maybe a hint of malt and some fruit. Tasting this, I’m unsure how to describe the main flavor besides to say that it tastes like a very smooth and mellow black tea. It’s not malty or bready, maybe a touch of raisin? But in a very light way. There is a definite honey taste, and a tart fruitiness. It’s listed as “peach and plum” on the website and I must say I agree with that description. Tartness from the plum but also a nice juiciness from the peach. I added a touch of sugar to the second half of my cup and it seemed to bring out a floral note? Perhaps I’m crazy! The lovely honeyed fruit taste lingers pleasantly after I’m done sipping.

Overall, very delicious and a wonderful experience for my first (plain) Taiwanese black! Thanks so much to Green Terrace Teas for allowing us to sample their wares for the very low cost of a review! :) I would definitely purchase this tea.

On a side note, I would like to suggest that steeping suggestions be added to the packaging just to make it easier for the customer. Even with a sample, it’s a nice touch and I feel like it wouldn’t be difficult to include. Thanks! :D

Flavors: Floral, Honey, Peach, Plums, Raisins, Smooth

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Leia happens to be my favorite character! Strong and feisty, not whiny or reliant on men like most female characters. This blend smells quite feisty too! It reminds me of ginger ale, but with a bit of orange and vanilla added in. I overleafed a bit, as I pretty much always do with rooibos blends. Steeped 5 minutes!

Brewed, it smells quite gingery! There’s that orange fruitiness there too. I didn’t expect to like this tea much, not being a huge fan of ginger. Luckily the ginger is much milder than I expected, though it is still the main flavor. The sweet vanilla and fruit round out the spiciness quite nicely, and the orange just adds an extra element and melds well. There is a definite peach aftertaste, and the ginger lingers at the back of the throat, warming and feeling a bit odd. I drank this with a half teaspoon of sugar and found it quite nice actually. Didn’t taste black tea or rooibos at all though! I would consider this a good evening option since there is very little black tea in it.

Flavors: Fruity, Ginger, Orange, Peach, Vanilla

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Milk Oolong by Mandala Tea
242 tasting notes

This tea is from TeaTiff’s ridiculously generous swap package! I’ve been curious about milk oolong teas for a while, and she was nice enough to send me samples of two very highly rated ones. I thought I’d try one while I still had at least some memory of the Simple Loose Leaf variety I tried recently, so I could compare. They look fairly similar – although all green oolongs have looked similar to me so far, with only minor color variation. This tea smells very rich, like buttered popcorn, coconut milk, and sweetened condensed milk mixed together. I looked at tasting notes until I found Tea Sipper’s note with Mandala’s recommendations for western style brewing. Jackpot! :) Brewed for two minutes. The sample was a bit more than a teaspoon, but I used the whole thing.

The aroma has similar butter & cream notes, but mixed with a fairly strong floral scent and a light fruitiness. I find the taste somewhat similar to the other milk oolong I’ve tried. There is a light vegetal taste in the background, with definite cream and butter notes and a lovely peach aftertaste. The whole flavor is extremely light. It was not sweet like I expected it to be, but I started to get buttered popcorn flavor as it cooled.

Next, the resteep. I did 2.5 minutes this time. The aroma this time was butter and cream with a stronger fruit scent. The flavor was even lighter and it was all cream and butter with some fruitiness. That nice peachy aftertaste is still there.

Overall, I think I’m not a fan of green oolongs, their flavor tends to be too light for me. But I recently got a small teapot (free gift with my first Simple Loose Leaf box) so I may try to do a pseudo-gong fu session with my other milk oolong.

Flavors: Butter, Cream, Peach, Popcorn, Vegetal

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Yay I finally got my TeaVivre samples! I’ve been really excited to try their black teas. Thanks Angel for the very generous samples! This tea was the one I was most anxious to try because it’s so unique. :) The pearls are about a half-inch in diameter, and the color is about an equal mixture of brown and golden tips. They smell divine – very sweet honey with some cocoa, malt, and bread notes. I did two separate steeps (4 pearls each) and then a resteep.

The first steep, I followed the package directions and let it go for 5 minutes. The aroma was very malty in a beer kind of way, with bread and honey and some light cocoa. The taste was…meh. It was very one-note and the malt dominated. I was surprised it did not get bitter at all, even with the long steep.

Second try, I went for 3 minutes. The aroma was more sweet honey this time, but the beer scent was still there with stronger cocoa. The taste was more complex, with some strong honey notes and a little bit of bread or malt. Not really cocoa though. I then resteeped the same leaves for 4 minutes, and got a flavor somewhere between the other two.

I feel like I didn’t get the full flavor out of this tea. The steeping parameters that others have used are so widely varied that it’s hard to know what to sweet spot is. My only idea is to try more pearls, maybe 5, and a shorter steep time. Any suggestions would be amazing. :)

Flavors: Baked Bread, Honey, Malt

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML

I like this one steeped for 9 minutes. Sounds weird for a black tea, but it’s good! I also like my black teas with a splash of milk and a little sugar. That timeframe seems to bring out the dark chocolate notes. Good luck!

Cameron B.

Thanks! I definitely have enough to try this a few different ways, although I generally try not to add anything to straight teas.

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Backlog from last night! I went to start reviewing another tea and realized I still had the notes from this one and hadn’t written it up. Oops. This is from Simple Loose Leaf’s July selection. Looks like rooibos with dried lemongrass, citrus peel, and the odd red peppercorn. It smells quite citrusy, which is good for me. It’s obviously grapefruit, but there are some other citrus scents and a touch of spice. Brewed 5 minutes!

The brew smelled similar to the dry, but with less punch. I was actually surprised that the grapefruit is not very strong in the taste. I mostly get lemongrass with a citrus accompaniment. It’s a little bit herbaceous from the lemongrass, and there is definitely a peppery note. The spice is there but subtle, just a background flourish.

Overall, I liked this as a caffeine-free night option. The rooibos taste was not strong, and it did not taste medicinal like some rooibos can. Although I don’t really get “tropical” from this… Odd name choice.

Flavors: Citrus, Lemongrass, Peppercorn, Spices

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Another tea from the July Simple Loose Leaf box! I have pretty limited experience with white teas, and I’ve only ever had the bai mu dan variety, so this is a new one for me. I think shou mei is a lower grade of white tea, right? The leaves look fairly similar to bai mu dan, except there are a ton of stems in there. The leaves themselves are large and very varied in color. There are a few scant flower petals in there, too. It smells sugary sweet and kind of like grape, I guess. Mostly like candy… Not a great sign for me. 200 degrees seems high to me for a white tea, let alone one mixed with green tea. But I did it anyway! 3 minutes.

The brewed tea smells similar to the dry, but much more muted. There’s also some weird aroma that I can’t identify… The taste is kind of meh. I like the taste of the base – it’s kind of like a rougher version of the white tea I’ve had before. There’s that hay flavor, but then there’s also dry leaves and some grassiness from the green tea. I’m not sure that I really get floral, it’s definitely very mild. But the plum flavoring ruins this for me, it tastes like candy (not in a good way) and it has a very weird aftertaste that reminds me a bit of plastic combined with Dimetapp (grape cough syrup basically). It’s improved with a bit of sugar, but it still tastes just plain odd to me. :(

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Candy, Floral, Grapes, Grass, Hay

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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The little green man tea! Yoda is pretty epic, even if he is a little bit overdone in pop culture. The tea is a mix of green tea leaves, dried lemongrass, and bits of dried ginger root. It smells exactly like bread & butter pickles! Side note: my boyfriend looked at me like I was crazy when I called them bread & butter pickles, apparently he had never heard that term before (he calls them sweet pickles). Maybe it’s a more southern thing…? I steeped this twice.

First time, 175 degrees for 3 minutes. The aroma reminds me of the pickles too, just with less of a vinegar scent. The taste is extremely light. The main flavor I get is ginger and cinnamon, and even that is very mild. I taste a hint of lemongrass and then a light vegetal edge at the end. Meh.

Tried again at the recommended 190 degrees and with a little more tea. Came out basically exactly the same. I guess this tea is just a bit light for my tastes…

How does this tea compare to Yoda? Well… There is something about ginger and lemongrass that seems meditative to me, which would make sense. And I can see Master Yoda drinking a green tea, mostly because he has that kind of stereotypical Asian wise man persona. But I think he would want something far more pungent than this… Too weak for such a strong Jedi Master!

Flavors: Cinnamon, Ginger, Lemongrass, Vegetal

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

I totally know what bread and butter pickles are.


Bread and butter pickles are AWESOME – especially when made by my grandmother


Love bread and butter pickles!


I have literally seen bread and butter pickles printed on a pickle label…but am also from the south, so maybe they are only sold down there?

Cameron B.

mj I don’t know, that was the only thing I could think of since I’m from Missouri and he is from New Jersey… :P


I think they are a southern thing

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drank Lung Ching by Harney & Sons
242 tasting notes

Another of my Harney & Sons samples that I ordered a while back. I’ve actually had a dragonwell style tea before, back when I got a lot of tea from Teavana. And I remember it being pretty good! This one has long, flattened leaves that are a light color somewhere in the green/brown/grey spectrum. I see stems attached to some of the leaves. It mostly smells like musty hay and alfalfa with some sweetness. 3 minute steep!

The aroma of this actually reminds me of sencha, in a milder way. It has that grassiness with some alfalfa, but it’s much sweeter-smelling and buttery. The taste has a lot more elements than I expected! It’s quite mild and buttery, and it starts off tasting of hay or dried leaves. There’s definitely a nutty element, but I can’t really place what variety it would be. The end is somewhat grassy and vegetal, maybe a bit of Brussels sprout? Not astringent at all and quite smooth.

Overall, I was surprised at the savoriness of this tea compared to the sweetness of the aroma. Quite nice, in an everyday tea kind of way! :)

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Butter, Grass, Hay, Nutty, Vegetal

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Yay my first ever milk oolong! I’ve been pretty excited to try one ever since I found out it was a thing. This one is from Simple Loose Leaf – I chose it as my sample this month and it will be in the August menu. The leaves are a dark, muted yellowish green. They’re rolled up like other green oolongs I’ve seen and the size varies a lot among the pellets. It smells very much like sweet cream flavor. Hmm… I steeped for 3 minutes (the high end of the recommended time).

Yum, it smells delicious. It has kind of a peaches and cream thing going on with a bit of mild floral scent. The taste is not quite as exciting to me as the smell. There’s a definite vegetal note that reminds me of butternut squash, some light sweetness, and a floral touch. The peach shows up as an aftertaste, and it’s so convincing that I wish I could taste it the whole time. I don’t really taste milk in this, although I do get a light creaminess from the squash.

Steeped a second time (also 3 minutes) and I think I like it better this time around. The vegetal side is pretty much gone, and it’s much more fruity and floral now. However, I still don’t get a ton of cream flavor. I added some sugar and it seemed to help, but I feel like something called milk oolong should be creamy without additions.

Overall, it’s pretty good for a green oolong but I don’t know that I would classify it as a milk variety just from the taste. Perhaps it has to be with my brewing it western-style…

Flavors: Apricot, Butternut Squash, Cream, Floral, Peach

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Hello, my name is Cameron. I’m 24 years old and currently living in Saratoga Springs, New York with my lovely boyfriend (a software architect). I am currently not employed, which leaves plenty of time for cooking and tea-drinking! I am a staunch lover of pugs and other squishy-face dogs, although sadly I do not currently have one. :(

I originally got into tea a couple of years ago. My sister introduced me to Teavana (there was a store in the nearby mall) and I was hooked. I have just started to drink tea again and I am very grateful to have found this community where there are so many with experience and wisdom to share!

Currently trying to move out of the flavored tea phase and into those tasty straight teas!

I love swaps! If you see something in my cupboard that you’d like to try, shoot me a private message and we’ll work something out!

My general tea info:

Flavored Blacks
Golden Yunnans
Genmaicha (traditional or otherwise)

Currently Exploring:
Chinese Blacks

Not A Fan
Licorice Root
Rose Hips
Most fruit blends (they all taste the same to me…)

Rating Scale:

90-100: Spectacular, a staple
80-89: Delicious, might buy again
70-79: Pretty good, won’t repurchase
60-69: Just “okay”
00-59: Undrinkable!


Saratoga Springs, New York

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