618 Tasting Notes

drank Strawberry Zabaglione by 52teas
618 tasting notes

The connectivity issues I was having with Steepster last night are persisting today. All I want is to drink good tea and blog about it! Is that too much to ask for?

I’ve been drinking this tea a lot lately and not because I like it, but because I’m trying to figure it out. I’ve tried different leaf amounts, different steep times, different additions or sans additions. I just can’t decide if I like it or not.

Without additions, it’s a bit tannic. But with additions, it’s just weird. Maybe the problem is that I don’t like zabaglione? I don’t know. I keep going back and forth. Honestly, I think sugar ruins it. Since I’m a cream and sugar kind of girl, I find that odd. Perhaps the custard flavoring is too strong for my tastes. I LOVE strawberries and fresh whipped cream! But strawberries and custard? Hmmm…I can’t make up my mind.

I think I am learning to like this, but I’m not at love. It’s best with just a splash of skim milk, no sugar, and steeped for 2.5 minutes in roughly 8 oz. of water with 2 tsp of leaves. You really have to be careful with this one not to oversteep it because it turns very bitter. Since I’m finding it more drinkable now and am finally able to enjoy it, I’m raising the rating from 67 to 75.

Boiling 2 min, 30 sec

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Steepster has been giving me a really hard time tonight. It’s up, it’s down, it’s up, it’s down. Ugh. But it looks like it’s finally working again. After an underwhelming first experience, I decided to give this tea another shot. So, I bought a 2 oz. package from Ovation and here we are!

The dry leaf aroma is very strongly citrus. Have you ever had Airborne, the orange-flavored vitamin C supplement you drop in a glass of water? That’s what this smells like. It’s heavy on the orange and tangerine with something else detectable, but not discernible, underneath. I really hope the jasmine pops through once it’s steeped.

Following the recommended steeping parameters on the package, I brewed this for 4 minutes at 185 degrees. I did use a little more than 2 tsp because of my Green Tea Fruit Smoothie experience. That tea has an intoxicating dry aroma but brews up very subtle tasting. I had a feeling this might act the same. Ah yes, I can tell freshness is paramount with this tea because the brewed aroma is awesome! There’s that jasmine I was missing earlier!

The flavor is, again, mostly citrus. The jasmine comes out in the aftertaste. It seems to me like the jasmine is taking a backseat to the citrus, and I wish it were the other way around. I’ve never ever ever ever had the urge to add sugar to a green tea before. Well, I not only had the urge but I indulged it too! This really needed the extra bit of sweetness. The citrus was just too much for me.

Overall, this was much better than the first time I tried it. I raised the rating from 50 to 59. But it’s still not a favorite for my palate. Of course, you never know till you try! It’s good, but not great.

185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Phew, I am sore! I’ve been the exemplary sedentary American. I know I need to get more, or rather I should say any, exercise. My fiancé bought me the Zumba 2 Wii game for Christmas, and I finally broke it out yesterday. Holy crap! That game is WAAAAY harder than I anticipated! I couldn’t even finish a medium intensity full length class. I kept thinking, this has to be the last song, and then another one would play. Rinse and repeat. Ugh, I literally hurt in the weirdest places, like my lower back and love handles. Hopefully, that means I’ll lose fat from those areas, but it remains to be seen how effective of a workout it will be. I even have rug burn on my toes. :( Tip: Don’t dance barefoot on carpet for an hour. I also think it would be more fun as a live class. Still, there are some benefits to being alone in my apartment, such as no one has to witness my incredibly uncoordinated dance skills, or lack thereof.

Anyway, get on to the tea already! This is my first milk oolong experience, courtesy of Teavivre and their generous free samples!

The dry leaves smell really good! The aroma is like regular oolong but richer somehow and maybe a little darker. Woodsy definitely isn’t the correct description because that’s reserved for the dark Formosa oolongs. But there’s definitely an added component here than what’s in a regular green oolong.

I did a quick 1 minute steep. The tightly rolled balls unfurled into huge, whole leaves with long stems attached to the ends. The brewed tea aroma is luscious. This is definitely a green oolong but again, somehow richer and more distinctive than non-milk oolongs. It’s like the difference between milk chocolate and dark chocolate. This tea is definitely the dark chocolate.

I really want to drink it, but I know I’ll burn all the taste buds off my tongue if I do. A few patient minutes later and…Wow, from that build up of aroma I didn’t expect the taste to be so subtle. It’s definitely flavorful, but a lot of the flavor is in the aftertaste. It does have a certain creaminess to it, but I wouldn’t describe it as milky.

From experience, I know that the second or third steep is usually better than the first. So, I’m hopeful that the next cup will be better. That’s not to say this cup was bad, not by any means. It just wasn’t fully developed, akin to unripened fruit.

Second steep for 2 minutes and now the leaves have fully unfurled. Ah yes, and there’s a much more developed oolong flavor now too. It’s buttery and floral, but honestly I can’t tell that much difference between this and a Tie Guan Yin. Hmm, that second cup disappeared rather quickly…time to brew a third! I’ll try 3.5 minutes this time.

The flavor is still going strong. It’s a little less creamy but still enjoyable. I don’t have much to add so I think I’ll end the tasting note here. But I plan to keep steeping these leaves until there’s no flavor left or until my belly is sloshing with tea, whichever comes first. ;)

EDIT: I completely forgot about the fourth cup and let it steep for what must have been an hour or two. But it’s still delicious! No bitterness or astringency whatsoever. This is an amazing tea!

Boiling 1 min, 0 sec

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Sipdown…oh, sweet friend. It pains me to see you go. I will miss your maple creamy loveliness always.

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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This sample was much better than the Maple Pecan. I used even less water and dumped all the tea from the T-sac into my strainer. This revealed there was indeed very little tea in the sample. And some tea dust as well, which resulted in a gritty last sip.

Both the dry leaves and the brewed tea smelled like blueberry. The taste was blueberry, an essence of creaminess, and still a little watery (but much less so than the first sample). I enjoyed this, but again I probably won’t be buying a full bag. Honestly, I’m just really disappointed in how small these samples were. I mean, they only cost $1 for both. But does that mean I should get only about 1-2 grams of tea?

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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This is my first of two samples from Design a Tea. Ever since my fiancé bought this delicious maple pecan granola, I’ve had my mind fixed on the idea that it would make a fantastic flavored tea! I submitted the idea to 52teas and then came across Design a Tea’s custom blends. The closest I could get was subtracting the granola.

The dry tea definitely smelled like maple. The sample is only enough for one infusion and came in a T-sac. I hate T-sacs. They don’t let the tea leaves float around enough to let the flavor release. Of course, I didn’t come to this realization until it was too late.

The brewed tea still smelled like maple, but the taste was pretty lackluster. It was watery. I anticipated this when I saw how little leaf was in the sample, so I used about half as much water as I normally would. But I guess it was still too much.

As for the pecan, there might have been traces of it in there. But not enough that made me 100% sure I could actually taste it and that I wasn’t just imagining it. Needless to say, I won’t be buying a full bag of this. But at least I know maple and pecan is a good combo, so I’ll hold out hope that 52teas will blend it. Now, on to the next!

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec
Dylan Oxford

Depending on what you’re looking for, you should check out Ovation Teas custom blending. It is definitely a different approach than Design A Tea, but it’s got a lot more options. Unfortunately, Maple doesn’t appear to be one of their flavorings… but it might be worth emailing them to ask.


Cool, thanks for the tip! I’ll definitely check it out. :)

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drank Decaf Muscat by Lupicia
618 tasting notes

This was a free sample with my latest purchase. I also received a sample of regular Muscat, which I just drank. So, now I’m going to compare the caffeinated version to the decaffeinated version.

The dry leaf aromas are identical: sweet, sugary, grape fruit snacks. The brewed tea, however, is noticeably different. The muscat flavor is much more downplayed and less sweet in the decaf version. It’s still delicious, but not nearly as flavorful or robust.

I might actually enjoy the caffeinated version more even though I’m not a huge grape fan. There’s just something about this subtler flavoring that isn’t quite to my liking. It reminds me that this is a flavored tea, whereas the other one was more natural. If you really enjoy grape, then you’re probably going to want to go with the caffeinated version. But honestly, both are great.

They’re both well-balanced, expertly blended, and very smooth. It’s basically a toss-up, but I’m going to rate the decaf one point lower. Also I agree with what Bonnie said here; the reviews on this tea are lower than they should be. So, don’t be misled. This is a great tea!

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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drank Muscat by Lupicia
618 tasting notes

Sipdown…I’m surprised how good this tea is. The dry leaves smell exactly like sugary grape fruit snacks. But the brewed tea is a wonderful balance of smooth black tea and natural grape flavoring. It doesn’t taste artificial or like grape gummy snacks.

Second infusion is much weaker than the first, but I also didn’t increase the steeping time by much. It’s still enjoyable though. I drank this straight with just a little bit of sweetener, no milk. There’s no astringency or bitterness. It’s a lovely smooth cuppa, so I’m raising the rating from 48 to 64.

Overall, it’s really quite good, if I liked grape. Grape to me is okay. So, I won’t be replenshing this now that it’s gone. But if you love grape and want a well-balanced, authentic grape tea, try this one out! You may be surprised by how good it is too.

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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drank Earl Grey by Tazo
618 tasting notes

The steep time is more or less correct. I didn’t actually time it as I was at work, but I think 5 minutes is a safe bet. Also, this is the bagged version.

I thought I had tried this before, but I can’t seem to locate a tasting note on it. The dry leaf aroma was very strong and heavily laced with bergamot. It definitley conjured up an image of Paris, which I always reminisce about when drinking Earl Greys.

The taste is okay. As others have mentioned, it’s definitely not the best Earl Grey I’ve ever had. But it’s probably not the worst either. Or come to think of it, maybe it is the worst simply because I haven’t had much to complain about in prior Earl Grey experiences. (EDIT: I take that back. Samovar’s Earl Grey was disgusting and definitely the worst by far!)

Nonetheless, this is still very drinkable. I added a little bit of sweetener to try and cut the bitterness. It helped a bit, but the bitterness is still there. It’s an interesting bitterness because it’s clearly not coming from the tea, but from the bergamot itself. How strange.

Anyway, I probably wouldn’t be inclined to stock up on this stuff. The bergamot flavoring is a little flaky and bitter, but overall it’s not a bad tea. I’d rather have this than no tea at all. :)

200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec

Every time I read a review of this tea I can’t figure it out. I have tried this 3 or 4 times at starbucks and have never been able to detect the bergamot. I don’t know maybe they sell so little of it here that it is always stale.


I haven’t tried this at Starbucks. Maybe it’s the way the brew it that makes the flavor not quite right. I bought my teabag from the coffee cart lady at my work, so I was able to control the infusion.

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The dry leaves smell AMAZING!!! Fruity and delicious! The first scent I can discern is pineapple, quickly followed by mango and then strawberry. Even Mr. Frodo (my kitty) jumped up next to me to stick his nose near the bag and sniff.

The steeping instructions recommended 4-5 minutes, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. So, I brewed the first cup at 182 degrees for 2 minutes. The aroma of the brewed tea is much more subdued than the dry leaves. It smells like green tea first followed by subtle hints of mango. I’m really excited to try this!

Ah, the first sip is light and sweet. I think it probably could have been steeped for 4 minutes and still not turn bitter. The fruit flavor is a subtle, sweet essence of what it could be. I’ll definitely steep the second cup longer. Still, this fruit combination blends together nicely. Pineapple is definitely the most prominent flavor. The green tea is not very green, nor is it grassy. Indeed, it doesn’t have much flavor of its own at all. Once the cup cools completely, I can detect the flavor of the marigold petals. Not sure about globe amaranth but, then again, I don’t know what globe amaranth tastes like.

I steeped the second cup for a full 6 minutes at 185 degrees. Unfortunately, it’s more or less the same as the first cup. The dry leaves smell way too amazing to yield such a lackluster brew. I’ll hold off rating it for now and plan to double the leaf amount next time.

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec

Mr. Frodo!!! Adorable! My family has a bulldog called Samwise, and used to have three doggos called Legolas, Gandalf and Galadriel. : ) My Sencha is the odd one!

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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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