618 Tasting Notes


My first cold brew experience brought to us by Mercuryhime. :D

I was patient and waited exactly 24 hours, as suggested. ;) First taste…whoa! Unexpected! It tastes completely different than when hot brewed. It’s hard to describe the difference. I actually get an almost dark chocolate flavor now.

I know there’s no chocolate in this, but that’s what it tastes like. Dark chocolate covered strawberries. I think it’s because of how the cold brewing affects the bai mu dan. The beginning of the sip is earthy and bitter. The end of the sip is where the strawberry comes out. And the aftertaste is where the chocolate flavor morphs into white tea flavor.

Wow, so different! I just can’t get over it. I like the aftertaste the most. It lingers pleasantly on my tongue for minutes at a time. Thanks for the cold brewing suggestion, Mercuryhime! I never would have come up with this on my own! :) I am all smiles tonight! :) :) :)

EDIT: I gave the cup to my fiance to try. “Tell me what you think it tastes like,” I said. He replied, “Snow.” “Snow?!” “Yeah, it’s cold.”

sigh The boy just doesn’t understand tea.


I’ve had plenty of instances where I think white tea tastes/smells like chocolate. You are not alone. :) And I’m glad you liked it. Green oolongs are also great cold brewed. And Japanese greens. And pretty much anything fruity. Good thing warm weather is coming so you’ll be able to experiment. :)

I’m lucky if my boy can tell the difference between strawberry and peach flavor. Boys… At least yours is funny. :)

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After reading the recent posts about this tea, it really made me want some again! Give me that creamy, cherry, cheesecake-y flavor!

I upped the brewing temperature a little bit, and the resulting cup smells heavily of cheesecake and genmaicha. Of course, that’s what it should smell like, right? So far, so good great!

Hmm, this is good but I think I like it better at the lower temperature. The aroma is better now, but the taste is more grassy and less creamy.

Okay, now the rest of this post is going to have nothing to do with tea. But I need some advice. You see, I spend a lot of my time reading. I’ve always loved reading. I have a huge collection of books that I cart around with me every time I move, which unfortunately is quite often. It’s getting to be a bit ridiculous. With the invention of the Nook and Kindle, I’m starting to think that’s the better way to go. You can carry 3500 books in one tiny little tablet! But honestly, it’s hard for me to get over not having the actual book. I like looking at the covers and feeling the pages. I like the smell as they age and the sound of the pages as they turn. I like having a collection of books. Will an eReader really appease me? It’s hard to tell. I know you can’t tell me what to do, but I’d appreciate any advice you can give me. What has your experience been with eReaders? Which eReader would you recommend? Thanks in advance everyone!

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec

I’ve been struggling with the same issue!! ebooks just aren’t the same :(
but they are enviro and space friendly!! hrm.


I went through a similar dilema about a year ago. I finaly gave in and bought a kindle. I still love books, and if there is one I love I will but the physical copy just to have in my collection. The kindle has been great for me. I can take it everywhere, get books anywhere, and never have to worry if I am taking too few or too many books at any given point. It has become one of my favorite possetions.

I dont think of it as a replacement for paper books, more as an addition. : )


Also, drinking tea is easier while reading with the kindle! You only need one hand and it is really light! : D


I have a Kindle (what is now called the Kindle Keyboard) along w. a lighted Kindle leather case. As my eyes age, the light and ability to change the font can be great. I also have a very large book collection, and struggled w. this issue too, especially since a lot of my books have been purchased used.
Knowing you like to cost compare, consider this: most bestsellers are not discounted. Recently the prices have gone up too (9.99-14.99 for a Stephen King). If you try to replace your collection by putting them all on a device, do the math first : )
With that said, on Amazon (if using Kindle) there are a LOT of free books and very low cost books (usually by lesser known authors). I vowed to not pay full price for anything when I got my Kindle, until I at least put a huge dent in my regular-books. Check with your local library on their ebook policies too. I have 60-70 books on my Kindle, and have only paid full price for one. Most are free or 99-cent ones.


I have the Kindle Touch. I really like it. It’s pretty fast and easy for me to just stick in my bag a go! It’s not the same as reading a paper book but it is convinent


I have a Kindle Fire and I love it – because I have a really small apartment it saves on space and I also read it on the bus. I still have a ton of books though.


Thanks for all the advice, guys. I think I’m going to get myself a Kindle Touch 3G. And as Ninavampi said, it’ll be in addition to my book collection. Not a replacement. :) Thanks all!!

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I wanted to make this tea over two and a half hours ago, but I’ve had a sleeping kitty on my lap. How could I move and force him to get up when he’s soooo cute? Cutest kitty on the planet!

He must be super tired or super comfortable, because he won’t budge despite my yelling. Why am I yelling? Well, you see, I’m watching 24. If you’ve seen 24, that’s enough of an answer right there. If not, Sean Astin just walked on screen. Without pausing to think, I shouted, “IT’S SAMWISE!!!!!!!!!”

Frodo, my kitty, jolted awake on my lap and then calmly laid his head back down and promptly returned to napping. In case you couldn’t already tell, I’m a wee bit obsessed with The Lord of the Rings. But Frodo didn’t seem fazed by my outburst, so I had to wait him out for another 40 minutes before making this tea.

I can say though that the wait was definitely worth it! The brewed tea aroma is roasty toasty houjicha! Ah, how I love roasted green teas. Oh yum! It’s just so yummy! I’m getting caramel and almond notes, and a bit of milky creaminess too.

This tea is awfully tasty for being nearly one year old. This is renewing my love of houjicha. I’ve been drinking a crappy, minced, bagged version of houjicha lately, and I’ve gotten sick of it. I’d forgotten how wonderful real, fresh houjicha is.

For those of you that haven’t tried houjicha before, GO! DO IT NOW!! BREW PEOPLE BREW!!! But really, try it! It’s nothing like regular green tea. The grassy vegetal flavor is roasted right out of the leaves, and it turns into a soft, mellow, toasted cuppa. Soooo good! Thank you Mercuryhime for yet another amazing tea experience!

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 15 sec

That happens to me frequently as well. I can’t even go to the bathroom if there’s a kitty on my lap.

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I can’t comment on what the dry leaves smell like because this tea was influenced by the ones it was stored with. But the leaves themselves look great! Classic, green Bai Mu Dan leaves. I’ve had a couple strawberry-flavored green teas recently, so I’m looking forward to a white tea version.

The brewed aroma is light strawberry syrup. The taste is mostly lovely Bai Mu Dan with a light, sweet, strawberry flavor at the end of the sip. I don’t usually like flavored whites, but this is pretty darn good!

I have to say that I think I understand the oddity Mercuryhime describes when this tea is hot. The strawberry flavor is different and not what I expected. I don’t want to say artificial because that has a negative connotation. But it definitely doesn’t taste like biting into a ripe strawberry. The only way I can think to describe it is “syrup.” It tastes syrup-y.

Syrup or not, this tea is yum! What a nice surprise from a box full of goodies! I just might have to add this to my next tea order. Thanks to Mercuryhime for sending me this sample! You’ve introduced me to a great new tea vendor!

170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 0 sec

You’re welcome!


Also, try cold brewing it. So tasty!


I’ll do that next. How long should I cold brew it for? This will be my first time trying that method.


Overnight or longer. I like to go 24 hours. Use less water than you think you need. You can add more if you need to. Good luck!

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So, I just realized I’m kind of a schmuck. I swapped some teas with a few generous Steepsterites about 3.5 months ago, and I never wrote tasting notes!!! Blasphemy! I apologize for being unappreciative, ladies. I got engaged shortly after receiving your packages, and although that’s no excuse for my ungrateful behavior, I haven’t forgotten you! I’m going to make it a priority to try all these wonderful samples that y’all were so kind to share with me. Please bear with me as there are quite a few, and it may take a couple weeks to make it through all these. But I’m sorry for my shameful behavior, and I vow not to let it happen again.

Now, on to these teas!!! First up, this White Coconut Crème tea, complements of Mercuryhime!

The dry leaves smell like candy! Very sugary sweet! The leaves are a faded green, almost brown color with lots of coconut bits and tiny flower pieces. It was hard for me to brew this tea for 3 minutes, but I quelled the impulse to pull the strainer out of my cup at 1.5 minutes and again at 2 minutes. The brewing instructions say 3 minutes for a reason! Be patient!

Finally the 3 minutes were up, and I handed the cup to my fiancé to smell first. His response? He said it smelled like “a milky tree. You know, like a tree made of milk.” Hmmm, while I’m not sure I share that opinion, it definitely doesn’t smell like any other white tea I’ve tried. I get coconut and cream in the aroma, which is just as good since this tea is called White Coconut Crème!

The taste is a floral, smooth, coconut-y dream! It’s really too bad I let this sit in my cupboard so long. I bet it’s sensational when it’s fresh! As is, it’s still very delicious. Thanks again, Mercuryhime and I’m sorry this tasting note is so belated.

170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 0 sec

Preach! I still have a good 15-20 teas left to try from swaps!


No worries! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Being engaged is definitely a valid reason for forgetting about tea from swaps. Being engaged is stressful!


Well, trying to plan a wedding in New England when you live in D.C. is stressful, but I have to say the being engaged part is pretty nice. ;)

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Okay, I admit my taste buds might already be compromised. The fiancé decided to cook steak and habanero peppers in his cast iron skillet. Basically, he poisoned the air. I had to retreat into the bedroom because the air was so peppery I couldn’t stop coughing and sneezing. My nose is now running like crazy, so I’m not sure how reliable this tasting note will be.

The dry leaves smelled like tea. Yeah, I know, not very descriptive. But really, there wasn’t much to it. No overtly recognizable scents. The brewed tea aroma is a similar experience. It smells like Teavivre’s other black teas.

Now let’s see if I have any better luck describing the taste. It’s much stronger than I anticipated. It tastes like it could be a great base for blending. No bitterness or tannins detected. I feel like it’s a little peppery, but then again that could just be from the air. Toasty might be a better description.

It came in pre-measured, individual, little, red packets. So, maybe it tastes strong to me because the leaf is more proportional. When I measure the tea leaves out myself, I almost always err on the side of too little. Still, I think the Yun Nan Dian Hong Black Tea was more to my liking. It just had more flavor.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t flavorless. It just tastes kind of standard to me, like something I would drink as my morning cup of tea. Oddly enough though, the Teavivre site says it has minimal caffeine (less than 15% of a cup of coffee). I guess that’s a good thing since I’m drinking it at 8pm on a weekday.

But I usually choose black tea for its taste as well as caffeine content. So, if this doesn’t have much caffeine in it and the taste is lacking, there’s not a whole lot of point for me to drink it. It is a good cuppa, just not my favorite. Despite its high quality, the taste just isn’t enough to my liking for me to reach for it often. So, if you like Bailin Gongfu, you’ll like this one too!

Now it’s time to peek out tentatively like Groundhog Phil and see if it’s safe to come out yet.

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 30 sec

Haven’t cared for this one either, but going to try a 3rd time to make sure… the pressure of not liking the #1 Steepster tea, huh? : )


Wow, I didn’t even realize it was the #1 Steepster tea! Now I feel more gratitude that I had a chance to try it. I mean, it’s good high quality tea. But the BEST tea? It’s too generic and plain for me to label it the best tea.

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drank Tochiotome Green by Lupicia
618 tasting notes

YAY!!!!! I’ve been waiting for this tea to return for an entire year!!! It’s seasonal, and I missed it last year. I’ve been keeping an eye on the website ever since, not knowing when exactly it might pop up again. Then I read a recent review of this tea by Amy oh who mentioned it came in the monthly newsletter.

So, I knew I’d be getting my newsletter shortly and the long wait for Tochiotome would soon be over! I ripped open the package and was assailed by the dry leaf aroma, which is succulent fresh strawberries! The brewed tea is the same mouthwatering strawberry with the added aroma of verdant sencha.

Sadly, the flavor is little bit of a letdown. It’s very grassy with a touch of bitterness. The strawberry flavor wanes on the end of the sip, and the bitterness takes front stage in the aftertaste.

I guess I built this tea up in my head for a year, so I was expecting heaven. The beginning of the sip may be close to heaven, but the tail end ruins the illusion. It’s too bad Lupicia doesn’t use a nicer base. I was expecting something more like 52 teas’ Strawberry Pancake Green Tea minus the maple flavoring. I suppose if I liked sencha more, the grassiness wouldn’t bother me.

Well, if nothing else, this tea gave me the idea for an interesting quest for when I go to Japan. I’d love to try one of these tochiotome strawberries for myself (sans tea)!

185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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drank Cozy Chamomile by Bigelow
618 tasting notes

This will be my first experience with chamomile tea. I’ve never been very big on herbal teas. There’s no real tea in it! But here we go anyway.

At first blush, I thought the aroma was awful, like strong damp weeds. But I had my nose less than an inch from the cup, so maybe I was just smelling it too closely. I stood up and stared off into space while I waited for it to steep. I was breathing deeply and inhaling the tea without meaning to. Oddly enough, now it smelled good! I bent down and wafted the aroma towards me. But again, when I stuck my nose near the cup…phew! Stinky! So, who knows what that means.

The taste is similar to the aroma but stronger. When it’s actually on my tongue, it tastes great! Kind of like how the aroma is great when I’m standing over the steaming mug. But then I swallow and the aftertaste gets me. Blech! Strong, too strong. Icky. I can’t help but shake my head.

No no no. I don’t think I like chamomile. Or at least, this bagged version of it isn’t going to fly. It has potential, those little moments when I thought I liked it. But then it got squashed by yuck.

It’s really too bad. I’m so stressed out I can hardly function. I haven’t slept in 3 days. So, I thought the most recommended stress relieving bedtime tea would do the trick. Sadly, I think I’m going to have to rely on something else. I thought I could finish the cup, but I’m afraid this dirty floral tea is going down the drain.

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

that’s too bad you don’t like chamomile. I find tulsi is helpful for stress. Valerian will help you sleep but it is REALLY smelly…


Hugs!! Positive thoughts and wishing the best possible out come with the most hugs possible!


Oops… Wrong post… But still send you hugs and possitvie thoughts!


Oh man, try a real chamomile sometime because this bagged version is nothing like the real thing


@DaisyChubb, ok I will! Thanks for the comment!
@Ninavampi, You are so adorable!!! Thanks for the accidental hugs! :)


@Amy oh, I tried the valerian and it didn’t make any difference. :( But thanks for the tip, and the warning. Valerian IS incredibly smelly! Hahaha!


that’s too bad! I hope you find some relief soon…

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Uh oh…I think I already messed up the preparation of this tea. I’m not sure I used enough leaf. The liquor is almost clear! Clear!!

The aroma of the dry leaves was great: soft, clean, not overly grassy. The dry leaves themselves were a long, thin, crispy, mixture of green and yellow leaves and stems. The brewed tea aroma is very very soft, a little too soft. Again, probably because I didn’t measure the leaf correctly. I hate when I mess up brewing a new tea. It makes me not even want to write a note about it.

But here we go anyway. I apologize for my incompetence in advance. I’ll add a little more leaf to the second steeping and let you know how that turns out. This first cup is surprisingly good, even though it’s a little watery. I can tell that this is fantastic tea if brewed correctly.

Okay, second cup! I steeped this one for 2 minutes 45 seconds at 176 degrees. The liquor is still basically clear, but the flavor is stronger now. For some reason, this tea reminds me of the way cotton candy melts in your mouth. It’s sweet, but not too much so. This must be what people call umami. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced a texture like this in a drink. Simply exquisite.

This is my favorite green tea from Teavivre so far, although the Silver Jasmine Green Tea (Mo Li Yin Hao) is a pretty close second.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec

It looks as though underleafing is a common mistake for first-time drinkers of this tea, myself included!

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I’m so excited to try this tea!! I suggested a flavor combination to Frank recently (maple pecan granola), and this is pretty close to that! Plus, I love maple and brown sugar oatmeal. It’s my favorite kind of oatmeal, and almost the only kind I eat.

I do have to say though, I’m not sure the picture on the package is adequate for this blend. It looks kind of…unappetizing. But this is uncharacteristic for 52teas. Usually Frank’s pictures are mouthwatering and make me go over my allotted tea budget. But clearly, the picture made little difference in my decision to buy it.

Anyway, the dry leaves smell really good! It’s hard to describe why, but I’ll try. It smells very similar to the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie blend, but minus the raisin. So, what’s left? This wonderful oatmeal, black tea, sugary sweet fragrance.

The funny thing is the brewed tea has a completely different aroma! It still smells amazing, but so different. I think the black tea itself is more pronounced now and masks that overwhelming sweetness. I can still make out faint traces of oat, but it’s softer now. As for the maple? I didn’t forget. I just can’t find much of it in the aroma. Hopefully, it will be there in the taste.

Mmmmm, the taste is wonderful! There’s none of that tannic bitterness common to black teas sans additions. I’m not sure how much it matches the description, but it tastes wonderful regardless! It’s not nearly as sweet as the aroma makes it out to be.

I added a tiny bit of unsweetened almond milk and a little brown sugar too. It’s still very good. I think I like it about the same with or without additions. Unfortunately, I’m still missing that maple syrup aspect. I wish that were significantly stronger. But like I said, it’s a delicious tea nonetheless! So, if you happen to not like maple and brown sugar oatmeal, give this blend a try anyway! You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Boiling 2 min, 30 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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