514 Tasting Notes


I’m in an adventurous mood, so I’m going to try a tea I bought on a whim and am most likely not going to like. Yep, it’s my second experience with the dreaded puer!! Dun dun DUN!

Just from reading the label, it’s already a new experience for me. You’re supposed to steep 4 grams in 4 oz. of boiling water for 3-5 seconds. And you get 20+ infusions??! Wow. Okay, here goes nothing.

First, the aroma. Leather. It smells exactly like leather. I like wearing leather and smelling leather but drinking leather? Hmm. First sip is…surprising. I do taste leather but there’s a lot more going on too. It’s very complex. Naturally sweet and a tad spicy. Aromatic and interesting. Wow!! Maybe I can enjoy puer?

I’d never be able to go 20+ infusions if I drank the whole cup each time, so I’m going to take a few sips, pour it out, and then move on to the next steep. Please forgive this blasphemous behavior. I can tell from that first cup alone that this is a high quality tea that any puer enthusiast would drool over. Lucky for this tea, I just set up a swap with someone who does like puer. So, the rest of this ½ ounce sample will go to the loving home of Shmiracles!! :)

Anyway, back to the mission at hand. Here are my thoughts from my inexperienced tongue:

1st steep: As described above, but also with a bit of something akin to dry autumn grassiness. The aftertaste is reminiscent of a high quality green; something like Organic Dragon Tip.

2nd steep: Wow! Burned my mouth. That’s HOT! Anyway, the leather is a little more enjoyable now and not so horse saddle-like. The grassiness/vegetal flavor is more pronounced now as well and reminds me of buttery vegetables. I had to read the description for more ideas of how to describe this unique flavor. I definitely get the association with oak. It is oak-y.

3rd steep: Leather is continuing to fade and is being replaced by a floral oak-y-ness and buttery vegetables. This is the first steep that I detected floral notes. This infusion also has a great umami!! Buttery and silky smooth. My favorite mouthfeel and flavor so far.

4th steep: At this point, the buds are open. Leather is almost completely gone now. Floral oak is the most prominent flavor now. It still has that buttery vegetable aftertaste too. This is becoming more and more drinkable for me! I can say that I’m actually enjoying it!

5th steep: Floral oak. Buttery vegetable. And some unidentifiable puer-ness that distinguishes itself as definitely not a green tea, despite the similarities I’m finding. After this cup, my teapot ran out of hot water. So, I had to wait while I boiled more.

6th steep: Same as 5 above but maybe a tad lighter on flavor. Very enjoyable.

7th steep: Went with a little longer steep this time. About 15 seconds. A tad more spiciness is apparent, matching what I tasted in that first cup.

I’m getting a little bored now though, so I think I’ll call it quits here. Although I’m rating it a 79, I’d probably rate it a 100 if I actually liked puer. A 79 from me is extremely high considering that my only other puer experience gathered a whopping 25 and was thrown out after a couple sips. No re-steeps there. So, don’t mistake me; I’m giving this one high praise!!

I have the 2012 variety by the way. Also, the liquor was extremely light yellow the entire time for me. It never reached that light brown color as pictured. But I did use very short steeps. Another thing to note, it’s really hard not to burn your mouth in between steeps. How do you puer drinkers do it? I don’t have a gaiwan, so I just used my regular stainless steel infuser basket and 8 ounce owl mug (although I was careful to only fill it up halfway each time).

205 °F / 96 °C

I usually get bored after 3 infusions, which is bad of me I know!


Yep… I don’t usually want more than three cups of a tea before I’m done with it too, expensive pu’erh or not…


I’m bad at 3+ infusions too. And leather? I can see that being an acquired taste.

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drank White Christmas by 52teas
514 tasting notes

52teas 12 Days of Christmas Sampler 2012 – Day 12

I’ve finally made it to the end of the sampler, and it’s a bittersweet achievement. This tea is already sold out, so this is my only chance to try it and hopefully enjoy it too. Let me just say two things to Frank up front: 1) What a gorgeous iconic Christmas label! I love it!, and 2) THANK YOU FOR USING PEPPERMINT (and not spearmint)!!!

The dry leaf aroma is peppermint candy wonderland! But the brewed tea aroma is kind of…weird, for lack of a better word. It’s pulling at something in my memory, but I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is. DAVIDsTEA Read My Lips maybe? While I wait for the tea to cool, I’m going to tell a quick short story.

My phone just rang. I answered, and it’s a recorded voice telling me I won a cruise. Press 1 to talk to someone and 2 to decline the offer and be removed from the call list. I pressed 1. I figured it’s probably not a free cruise in reality, but it’s worth a couple minutes of my time to find out. What happens next? I’m put on hold for about two minutes. And then…another recorded voice tells me that all representatives are busy assisting other customers and I should leave my name and number after the beep and they’ll call me back later…Are you kidding me?! YOU called ME you stupid people!!! Clearly, I didn’t win anything. What a pain. I’ve never heard of this type of scam before but it really annoys me.

Anyway, back to the tea. First sip sans additions was a pleasant surprise. After that weird aroma, I wasn’t too sure how this would turn out. But it’s a yummy peppermint-y dream! It has a nice creamy aspect to it and a natural tasting sweetness. It’s like drinking liquid peppermint candy!! Yum!

It really is a great cup of tea just the way it is. But I’m curious what a little Truvia and skim milk will to do it. Hopefully, I don’t ruin a great thing. As I suspected, it doesn’t change things for the better. Luckily, it didn’t necessarily make it worse either. More of that weird aroma makes it into the flavor as it cools. I prefer drinking it piping hot!

I’m not getting any chocolaty notes that others have. Quite frankly, the base is sort of elusive here. It’s covered by the cream and peppermint. This was a yummy experience all in all. The second cup was just as delicious as the first. :) But I’m not disappointed that I missed the chance to scoop up a bag. I’m happy with the amount in the sample.

Boiling 2 min, 30 sec

LOL good story – yeah frustrating they called you. It was probably a bahama cruise (yes free) but not really a cruise. You go to Florida – get on a small ship go to bahamas for a day and come back but you have to get yourself to florida. Not a bad idea if you are close. They make their money with what you spend on the ship and excursion. Its a popular “YOU WON A TRIP” deal.


Yeah, I definitely wouldn’t be game for something like that. I’m getting married in April and planning our honeymoon to Japan in October. So, there’s no time to fit another trip in there! Plus, Florida…blah. If I’m going to take a cruise, it’s going to be somewhere exotic and far away. I’d also probably only book a cruise that’s all-inclusive.


IMSOFREAKINGJEALOUS JAPAN!!!!!! Have a beautiful time! :)


Thanks!! We can’t wait! We’ve wanted to go for our whole lives and now it’s finally gonna’ happen! :D

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drank Butterbeer by 52teas
514 tasting notes

52teas 12 Days of Christmas Sampler 2012 – Day 11

Ah, Butterbeer! Another oldie but a goodie. The dry leaf aroma is just as I remember: root beer and butter. The taste is magically delicious! Wait, that’s the slogan of Lucky Charms cereal isn’t it…well, whatever. You know what I’m getting at.

This tea is perfect and a wonderful complement to my evening of unwinding after a hard day’s work. I don’t have much to add, so see my previous tasting note for more specifics. And thanks again, Frank!

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i absolutely love this tea! it was my favorite from the christmas sampler


It really is one of the best teas I’ve ever had. Super unique and delicious!


It’s an awesome tea!!

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drank Boo-Berry Cotton Candy by 52teas
514 tasting notes

52teas 12 Days of Christmas Sampler 2012 – Day 10

Oh man. I was hoping for a new tea I hadn’t tried before. This one is a disappointment. I love Boo-berry and I LOVE Cotton Candy. But this blend has a gunpowder base, and I’m not a smokey tea fan.

I went ahead and made a cup anyway just to see if it’s any different than I remember. The dry leaf aroma seems a little more blueberry and less cotton candy than before. The brewed tea aroma is blueberry and smoke. A LOT of smoke. Phew!

The taste is a little more enjoyable this time around actually. The smoke seems to stay mostly in the aroma, which I definitely wasn’t experiencing last time. It’s still in the flavor, but I’m able to taste around it. I can find a sweet, spun sugar likeness in this cup. Surprisingly, the blueberry is quieter than before. I remember that being the dominant flavor along with the smokiness.

Although this is a better experience, I’m leaving the rating unchanged. See, 52teas’ Cotton Candy tea has a lovely floral element to it. And Boo-berry is just blueberry perfection. But with the addition of a smokey green base, I’m losing that floral aspect I love and the blueberry seems to have left the party early. It’s good, just not great.

180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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drank Chance Combinations by Custom
514 tasting notes

1 tsp 52teas’ Cashew Turtle + 1 tsp 52teas’ Double Chocolate Decadence

The last time I tried Cashew Turtle, I was underwhelmed. Which is weird because I LOVED that tea a year ago. So today, I decided to add some extra chocolate with Double Chocolate Decadence. You can never have too much chocolate!

As usual, I added a splash of skim milk and some Truvia. Mmmm, this is a delicious combination! I lucked out. Well on second thought, I don’t see how this could have turned out badly. One great tea plus another great tea equals one super awesome cuppa!

Chocolate is the dominant flavor, as would be expected, followed by caramel. The nuttiness is subtle and light but definitely not imagined. I’m really enjoying this. Yummy! What a great dessert tea! I’d rate it about 90.

Boiling 2 min, 30 sec

I will have to try this soon!

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drank Raspberry Truffle by Butiki Teas
514 tasting notes

I’m amazed at the dry leaf! The aroma is strongly raspberry, and there are a TON of freeze-dried raspberry pieces and chocolate chips in the blend. I’ve never seen a tea so chock full of ingredients!! It’s almost a ridiculous amount of generosity. Almost. ;)

I usually try a new tea straight before trying it with additions, but I’m really impatient right now. So, I’m just going to add skim milk and Truvia from the get go. I usually enjoy black tea better that way, and I’m ready for this dessert tea treat!

The brewed aroma is mostly black tea and raspberry. First sip…mmm this is good! I probably should have tried it without additions first, but it’s too late now! It’s very sweet and cocoa-y with the raspberry adding a nice complement to the cup. All the flavors are very balanced in my opinion. It’s equally dark chocolate, raspberry, and black tea.

I’m not a huge raspberry truffle fan though. I’d have preferred coconut truffle or caramel truffle or milk chocolate truffle. Maybe even cherry truffle. But the tea can hardly be blamed for that. As a raspberry truffle tea, this one is hard to beat. As others have mentioned, it does possess a nice creamy quality.

It’s also very strongly flavored! There’s nothing subtle about this tea. Granted, I used an extra ½ teaspoon than recommended. I can’t help myself; I’m a rebel. ;) This truly is yet another stellar tea from Butiki Teas!

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Miss Starfish

This sounds absolutely delicious!


It really is! And that’s coming from someone not big on raspberry. :)

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drank Lemon Cardamom Chun Mee by 52teas
514 tasting notes

52teas 12 Days of Christmas Sampler 2012 – Day 9

This is another one I missed this year. It certainly is very lemon! The dry leaf aroma alone is super lemony. The brewed tea aroma is…different. I’m guessing that’s the Chun Mee and cardamom coming through.

The taste is rather lacking in my opinion. I get a strange green tea flavor that I assume is the Chun Mee. I’ve never had this type of green tea before so it’s a hard flavor to recognize. There’s also lemon but it’s not a super lemon like in the aroma. It’s much more subtle and blends nicely with the cardamom spice. But it’s not really spicy either. And neither sweet nor bitter. It’s just sort of…bland.

I’ve read reviews where people compare this to Sun and Cloud Mist. Honestly, they’re worlds apart! There’s really nothing similar about them at all in my opinion. Except of course that they both contain lemon. But really, Chun Mee and Yun Wu are two extremely different green teas. I much prefer the latter.

Maybe I needed more leaf, or maybe I needed to let it steep longer. I tried a second steep at 185 degrees for 3 minutes. The resultant cup is unfortunately not much different from the first. I added a bit of Truvia and now it’s a sweet lemony green tea. But it still sits heavy on the tongue and makes my mouth feel stuffed with cotton.

I’m not having an allergic reaction. :P Rather this tea leaves a thick, heavy feeling in the aftertaste. It’s not a clean feeling like I’ve experienced in other green teas, namely Organic Dragon Tip from Butiki Teas. In fact, I think I may go make a cup of that next to cleanse my palate. This is just too heavy and bland for my tastes.

180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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52teas 12 Days of Christmas Sampler 2012 – Day 8

YAY!!! It’s the morning and I wanted a black tea, and BAM! Frank gave me a black tea!! And not only that, but it’s a chocolate tea!!! EEEEEEEH!!!

I quickly brewed this up while an incredibly annoying kitty meowed incessantly. Seriously, what do you want??! He has food and water and I even tried to pick him up and pet him and give him attention. But no, he just walks off and keeps meowing like he hasn’t eaten in days. Ugh.

I need an especially delicious treat this morning to put up with him, so I added Truvia and unsweetened almond milk to my cup. The result? A really sweet, really chocolaty elixir of +20 to ignore kitty sounds. Aaaah, ignorance is bliss.

This is a seriously yummy dark chocolate tea. I’m getting dark cocoa and a hint of bittersweetness. Yum yum yum! It’s like death by chocolate! Which consequently is a lot more pleasant than death by annoying kitty sounds. ;)

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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52teas 12 Days of Christmas Sampler 2012 – Day 7

Time for tea! The dry leaf aroma is very LIME. The brewed tea aroma is unexpected: sweet, sugary, & citrus-y. First sip is lighter than I expected too. I probably could have used more leaf. It feels like the lime is punching me in the tonsil though. Wow, that is some strong lime!

The sugary sweetness is only in the aroma. The taste is much more lime green tea than sugary candy treat. This is an interesting tea. It’s probably suited well as an iced tea. Maybe I’ll use the rest of the sample that way if I can remember to do so.

I gave the cup to my fiancé to try. He took several sips and said, “I have no idea what it is, but I like it a lot. It tastes round, if I had to describe it as a shape.” Interesting description, my love. I wouldn’t have any idea what it is either. Well, if I hadn’t cheated and read the description. :P

It is yummy! But just not a flavor I think I’d want all the time. I like lime on salmon and in margaritas. That’s probably about it. It’s weird in tea. I prefer lemon tea. Hmm, now to come up with a rating. This is hard! I feel like I have to reserve judgment until I try it iced.

I waited for the cup to chill and it does taste different cold. More of the marshmallow root comes through now. It actually reminds me of the Rainbow Sherbet from last year. It’s still not going to be a favorite of mine though. When it came out, I debated whether or not to buy it. In the end, I’m glad I didn’t. But I’m happy for the chance to try it and gotta’ give props to Frank for creativity!!

EDIT: Uh oh, just found some slimy gunk in the bottom of my cup. Yuck. I don’t know what that is, but now I’m really freaked out. Did that come from the tea, or did I not clean the cup properly in between teas? Either way, yuck. I’ll leave the rating alone though because I’m not entirely sure this is the tea’s fault.

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 30 sec

Ew. Hate when I find random things at the bottom of the cup :(


Yeah, it looked like algae. Blech. :(


Love this one cold steeped!

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drank Graveyard Mist by 52teas
514 tasting notes

52teas 12 Days of Christmas Sampler 2012 – Day 6

Hmm, Graveyard Mist. I would have been really excited for this one, if I hadn’t received a sample from Indigobloom a while back. I didn’t like it very much then, and I don’t like it very much now either. I’m just not a fan of spearmint in tea. It’s too much like toothpaste. Oh well, on to the next!

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 30 sec

at least now you know it wasn’t just the one batch! lol


Hahaha! If anything, this cup was worse because it was more potent. I’ve decided not to drink any more teas with spearmint. It’s just not my thing.

I always feel bad writing less than happy reviews about teas I get from swap partners. I know you can’t like every tea, but I always feel guilty. Like, you shared your awesome teas and then I go “Ick!” LOL!


Haha, ditto, I feel bad when I don’t like a tea someone generously shared with me. Especially if I know a) they love it or b) it’s expensive.

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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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