543 Tasting Notes

78

We celebrated our 1-year wedding anniversary a couple weeks ago. :) My husband planned a surprise getaway to NYC, where we saw a new Broadway musical called “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.” It was hilarious! We also had dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant in Astoria, ate some awesome udon at Samurai Mama in Brooklyn, and walked over 40 blocks in a single day! We went to Chelsea Market and enjoyed green tea doughnuts and Nutella crepes. Then we walked all the way up Fifth Avenue to Central Park. I bought a tin of Mariage Frères tea from Bergdorf Goodman and tried on an expensive Diane von Furstenberg dress just for fun. Overall, it was an amazing mini-vacation (we were only there for 2 days). I’m the planner in the relationship, so it was especially fun and romantic that he planned this special trip for us. But the trip couldn’t be complete without a stop at DAVIDsTEA!

I ordered a to-go cup of this and asked that they add a small amount of agave. It was really good! I definitely tasted strawberry, sweetness, and something pie-like. It’s probably not something I would buy a large amount of, but I did really enjoy the cup. Now to decide if I should buy another Nordic mug, hmmm…

caile

Happy anniversary! It sounds like you had a great getaway to celebrate!

Courtney

Happy anniversary! NYC is awesome. :)

CHAroma

Thank you! We had a really great time. :)

Roswell Strange

Happy Anniversary, and many more to come! :)

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55
drank Violette by Dammann Freres
543 tasting notes

Sipdown #16

Another DF sample courtesy of the ever generous JustJames!! As with Oolong Châtaigne, I found this tea very subtle, especially for a floral tea. There’s a faint whisper of violet flowers and black tea. But it’s like I drank the tea in a dream and once I woke up, I can’t recall exactly what it tasted like. I added a tiny bit of Truvia and that helped awaken the floral aspect.

Overall though, this is another one that is rather underwhelming. These teas are too subtle for my liking. I prefer them to sock me in the mouth with flavor. Where did that expression come from anyway? “Sock me in the mouth.” That’s pretty weird, isn’t it? Maybe someone was kidnapped once and they were forced to endure the pungency of a ripe, sweaty gym sock stuffed into their mouth to muffle their cries. You never know. That could be the correct origin. :P

Suffice it to say, my problem with DF teas is that they simply don’t stand up well to the test of time and environs. I do my best to store my teas under ideal conditions, but time is never on my side. These samples are from November. I guess that’s too long to wait and still expect grandeur, although the Butiki Teas’ sample held up perfectly fine.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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50

Sipdown #17

I’m disappointed in Microsoft Office. I downloaded a trial on my new laptop and then bought a license a couple days later. Once my trial expired, it asked for the product key which then it wouldn’t accept. After an annoying conversation with a Microsoft customer service rep whose native language isn’t English, I finally got my answer. I have to remove the software from my computer (uninstall it and then reinstall it) all because it won’t accept the product key code. Are you serious? This is such a stupid solution. And of course, it took several hours to get all this sorted out and then another hour to do it. I’m so annoyed. But FINALLY it’s done and I can get back to blogging.

ON TO THE TEA!

Thanks to JustJames for this sample! The first infusion is subtle and tastes like an unflavored tea. Although it claims to be an oolong, it actually reminds me of a Darjeeling. The base doesn’t have a whole lot of flavor though. It’s rather lackluster and doesn’t strike me as particularly oolong-y. There are slight hints of woody elements and…I want to say roasted, but it’s not really a roasty-toasty kind of flavor either. I’m at a loss to describe this one.

The second infusion is no longer flavorful and seems just to be a cup of warm water and a mere whisper of what it used to be. I definitely am not getting chestnut or nut of any kind in either infusion. It has a flavor, but it’s very subtle and…I can’t describe it as delicious. It’s just…there, kind of like how nearly everything has a flavor but that doesn’t mean everything is edible.

Overall, this tea is unremarkable. It’s not something that I would probably seek out again in the future. Wow, sorry for my rather harsh criticism. I fear my bad experience with Office has tainted my view of the tea. I think I need a hug.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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98

Every time I drink this tea, something keeps me from writing a note about it. The phone rings, I’m late for a meeting, I enjoy the tea so much that I simply forget to log it. It’s always something. Well, I’m going to make time today because THIS IS MY 500TH NOTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The dry leaf aroma is warm. Yes, warm. It smells inviting. The brewed tea aroma is a whole host of notes: woods, campfire, moss, bark. Cedar is the most prominent note. The flavor? Intoxicating. There’s a lovely spicy undertone that’s pronounced without being overtly spicy. It’s definitely not chai-like. It’s…unique, for lack of a better word. I love this tea to death. It is always delicious, comforting, and nuanced. Yunnan must be a magical fairytale land to produce such sweet nectar. Subsequent infusion for 3 minutes is just as enjoyable as the first cup. It’s hard to imagine growing tired of this tea. Who knew cedar wood could be so delicious?

I was glancing over the Verdant Tea website, but sadly this tea has been sold out for some time. I clicked on “Learn More” and found this beautiful passage: “How to Taste Tea. If you can put yourself in the right frame of mind, quiet the chatter of the everyday, and immerse yourself in the sensory experience of brewing and tasting a cup of tea, even a mediocre tea will be beautiful.” Wow. Isn’t that insightful? It’s so true and eloquently stated. I try to do this when I drink tea. I can’t properly reflect and blog unless I turn off the TV and block outside distractions. But I must say that this particular tea is far from mediocre. It is stellar, and I shall relish every last drop.

Flavors: Cedar

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
TeaBrat

happy 500! :)

Courtney

500, yay!

MzPriss

I tried to order this earlier this week and they were out :( and wow 500!

CHAroma

Thanks, y’all!

MzPriss

and happy 500!

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88
drank Hello Sweetie by Butiki Teas
543 tasting notes

Sipdown #18

Wow, the brewed tea aroma is really interesting. It’s unlike anything else I’ve tried. I’ve been making a lot of smoothies lately with my Vitamix (a present from my stepmother that I absolutely adore), and I swear this tea smells exactly like a fresh, ripe banana! Wow, but the taste??! OMG! It’s insane! I thought for sure that I would detest this, seeing as how I generally despise banana-flavored teas. Don’t ask me why. Bananas in a smoothie? Totally fine. Bananas in tea? Yuck, gag, cough, sputter. It doesn’t make logical sense, but then again, I’m human. I don’t have to. :P I’m in quite a mood today, so please forgive my weirdness. Actually, I guess I’m always weird so today is just an abnormally high level of weirdness. Okay, long digression. Back to the tea!

This tastes amazing. I don’t know what this base is, but it is divine! Smooth, flavorful, maybe a hint of malt, but mostly smooth cocoa, bread-y deliciousness! Then the real, authentic, true, ripe banana flavor comes in and mixes with some other element. Floral butter? If that’s a thing, then yes, this tea tastes like cocoa banana bread with floral butter spread. Mmmm! If that doesn’t make your mouth water, then I don’t know what will. There’s also a hint of something almost spicy, like catching a whiff of the spice cabinet without actually tasting anything definitively.

Seeing as how I wasn’t expecting to like this tea at all, I’m that much more impressed that I like it sans additions. This tea is lively and aromatic all by itself. No additives required. As the cup cools, the end of the sip leans toward the bitter end of the spectrum without quite reaching it, so I definitely recommend a 3-minute steeping time. Anything more and I think it may reach full bitterness (without milk to calm it anyway).

Now I’m kicking myself for sitting on this sample from JustJames for so long. I really must thank you, sir, for being such a kind tea sharer. And Stacy!! You are a tea blending magician! I don’t know how you made this, but it is magic in a cup. The added flavorings are so subtle yet impactful. They blend with the base so perfectly that I can’t tell where the flavorings stop and the base begins. Well done, Stacy, well done. I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to try this. Thank you, JustJames!! This tea really lifted my spirits today.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
Butiki Teas

Wow, you got a vitamix as a present! What an awesome gift. I love my vitamix! So glad you are enjoying the tea! :)

CHAroma

Yep! My stepmom is teaching me about nutrition & a lot if her recipes use a Vitamix. It’s the coolest, most versatile kitchen appliance ever made! You can make everything with this thing! Smoothies, sorbet, peanut butter, flour, dough, etc. I was super excited to get it. :)

Butiki Teas

Oh yeah, absolutely versatile! One of my favorite things to make with the vitamix is roasted tomato and basil soup.

TeaBrat

I have a Blendtec and I loooooove it

CHAroma

Ooh, soup! Do you use a recipe from the Vitamix site/cookbook or your own?

DeliriumsFrogs

The banana in this one really took me by surprise as well. I thought I’d hate banana flavour in a tea, but I love this one! And I totally get your ‘floral butter’ description; it’s really like that! :)

Butiki Teas

I made up my own recipe. Did not realize that they had one. Every person I have ever made this for, raves about it. I quarter enough tomatoes to fill up 3/4 of a baking pan, sort of like a cookie sheet but has some little walls. I add an onion, cut into 4 discs, and add 5 whole garlic cloves. Everything gets massaged with olive oil then sprinkled with salt and pepper. Goes into the oven at 375 for about 40 minutes until starting to brown then tops. Then they go into a 2 cups of veggie stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Then into the blender with 1 nice sized handful of fresh basil, a nice squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper. Then its done, though I like to bring it back into the pot and let it simmer for like 2 min. It’s absolutely delicious!

Butiki Teas

Oooh, and I like to make homemade croutons which are super easy. Pumpernickel croutons are awesome!

Butiki Teas

Oh yeah and sprinkle some fresh chiffonade basil on top of the soup.

CHAroma

@Butiki Teas, wow thanks! I’m really excited to try that out!

@DeliriumsFrogs, I’m glad that description made sense to someone other than myself. ;)

Butiki Teas

Charoma-I hope it works out for you. :)

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90

Not counting the tea I reviewed last week, I have 21 different flavors of SBT teas in my cupboard. I’d better get drinking! Thank God it’s finally warm enough to enjoy iced tea. The dry leaf aroma is divine. Very lime-y in a fresh, authentic way. It even smells creamy, mmm!

My husband stole a sip while he poured me a cup and said, “It’s good, but it’s too buttery for my tastes.” Well, good! All the more for me then! The nerve of him to steal a sip without asking anyway. :P I’m perfectly happy to lay claim to this entire pitcher all by myself because this is super yummy!

Although my husband described it as buttery, I’m not sure I agree. I find it creamy, smooth, luscious, and delicious! It’s equally lime and cheesecake to me. The black base here is not bitter at all, and the flavoring is much more authentic tasting than the lime in the Cherry Limeade SBT. I love this one so much more.

The base is about even strength with the added flavorings, which is especially nice. I added some agave and it complements the cup perfectly! This is exactly my kind of tea. Yummm! I need to pick up some more of this. I think this is the most cheesecake I’ve gotten out of any 52teas blend to date. It’s not tangy, but it is creamy and delicious. I call it a success!

Preparation
Iced 3 min, 0 sec

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60
drank SBT: Cherry Limeade by 52teas
543 tasting notes

Sipdown #19

The dry leaf aroma is potent. Phew! It certainly smells lime-y, although it’s also quite chemically and strong. The undiluted brewed tea aroma is…unappetizing. It just smells weird to me. Not like cherry or lime at all. Just a very strong black tea scent that borders on smoky. The diluted tea aroma is more like what I expected, although I’m still a little wary of that inexplicable harshness from the base.

Okay, so I seriously overleafed this tea. It says to brew it in 2 cups of water and then add 6 more cups. I only added 4.5 and I barely added any ice. So why does it taste so diluted? I’m getting mostly black tea with a tiny hint of cherry lime flavoring. The base tastes different from the other SBT black teas I’ve had, and the aftertaste turns bitter. Did Frank change to a different base from the original line of SBT teas released about 2-3 years ago?

This particular tea came in the fourth package design I’ve seen. I’m not sure what’s with the frequent packaging changes, although this last version does provide a lot of great, helpful information. I like the detailed steeping instructions and the alternate coldbrewing instructions. And this tea is organic?? Hmm, I didn’t know that. I guess that means it is a different base then because I don’t remember the first line of SBT teas being organic.

The more I sip it, the more I think I like it. But I have to say that it is mostly black tea with only a hint of lime. Perhaps there’s some cherry in here too but it’s definitely the quietest of the flavors. Maybe this would have been better if I coldbrewed it? I’d be interested to hear what others think of this because maybe I’m being over critical or I just botched the preparation somehow.

All in all, I feel that I have to give it a low (-ish) rating since it is not as expected and overall isn’t that yummy. I know Frank can do better than this. A few of the SBT flavors have blown my mind. (I’m looking at you, Pink Lemonade.) But this one is not spectacular.

Preparation
Iced 3 min, 0 sec
Sil

i think he did? change the base on sbt’s

CHAroma

The older/original SBT teas had “premium Indian CTC black teas blended with organic flavoring.” These newer ones have “premium organic black teas, organic flavors.” So, I’m not 100% sure they’re different but I think they are based on taste and the fact that he’s now describing the base itself as “organic.”

52teas

You have a very astute palate if you can actually taste a difference in the base tea. I did change the base from a CTC to an organic BOPFS from a different estate in the same south Indian region. My supplier was out of the CTC I had used and not expecting another shipment for months and offered this higher quality base as a suggested replacement. It has been the same base for about two years now, though the changes in the description came a little later. (I realized that we were using organic flavors and organic tea, so our iced teas were in effect 100% organic, so I added that to the description.)

As for the packaging changes, this should be the last one—fingers crossed. You should see the folders on my laptop: “SBT – Labels,” “SBT – New Labels,” “SBT – New NEW Labels,” “SBT – New New NEW Labels”. I’m so sick of redesigning labels.

Sorry you didn’t like the Cherry Limeade. It sounds like you prepared it correctly, if you steeped it 3 minutes in boiling water. 3 minutes is the high end of our recommendation for these. After that, it quickly over-steeps due to the delicate nature of the tea. It’s possible that it was over-steeped just a tiny bit. I’m basing that on your statement: “The base tastes different from the other SBT black teas I’ve had, and the aftertaste turns bitter.” Over-steeping does tend to mute the other flavors. Or maybe this one just didn’t do it for you. That happens. I think that’s why I make so many different flavors. I want to make enough so that everybody can find something they love. Of course, it would be great if everybody loved all of my teas, but I know that’s not going to happen. =)

CHAroma

There’s one other tea that comes to mind where I could tell the difference between the organic and non-organic versions. It’s definitely not something that I set out trying to tell apart. It was one of those things where I accidently bought an organic version and then was sipping it and thinking, “This doesn’t taste like I remember.”

So, I suppose it’s possible. But I just tried the SBT: Lime Cheesecake and found that base delicious! So assuming they’re the same thing, it’s probably the added flavorings of this tea that I didn’t particularly enjoy. But that’s all part of the adventure of tea! Everyone has different tastes and it’s part of the fun discovering what you like. Keep blending, Frank, and I’ll keep drinking. :)

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78

I got this during the recent reblend in February. I have a feeling this is going to be an amazing one. There are tons of large, whole chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and tiny cocoa bits mixed amongst the dry leaf. Ahhh!! So excited!

The dry leaf aroma is cocoa. The brewed tea aroma is…black tea. I took a sip and it surprisingly just tastes like a sweet black tea with a non-descript base. It’s not malty or assertive. It’s yummy. But it’s very plain. I’m not getting chocolate or peanut butter. :(

Okay, so maybe it does taste like chocolate. And I did pretty much chug it down. It’s delicious! Just not chocolate peanut butter cups. I made this on another occasion and steeped it for 3 minutes instead of 2.5. It was much better and much chocolatier this way. Still no peanut butter though.

Oh well. I guess I won’t be getting peanut butter from this or the Peanut Butter Marshmallow Treat Genmaicha. That’s really a shame. Peanut butter tea just sounds amazing, but alas, I’m still on the search for it. This is a good chocolate tea though. Very enjoyable if that’s all you expect from it. Since I expected more, I’m going to dock it a few points.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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85
drank Marco Polo by Mariage Frères
543 tasting notes

I bought this tea on my mini-moon in NYC and the matching Sablés au Thé on the actual honeymoon à Paris. I’ve been meaning to sit down and enjoy these two together for a while now. I finally decided enough is enough; no more waiting! Today is the day to try them.

The tea is strawberry, rhubarb, vanilla, cream, and flowers. The tea biscuits are butter, vanilla, and that something extra special from the Marco Polo tea infusion. They taste a lot like Scottish shortbread, except better! Way better. Much more flavorful. Leave it to the French to make delicious tea and cookies.

Why did I wait so long to enjoy you, oh glorious tea? This is exactly what I needed after an extremely stressful day. Sometimes I wonder why I’m alive. At least I have tea. Perhaps I can find refuge in several more cups.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
keychange

I’m sorry the day was so rough and led you to wonder why you’re here. For what it’s worth, I enjoy reading your reviews and am glad that your tea helped ground you today.

TeaBrat

sometimes tea is the thing keeping me sane as well…. :)

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84

The dry leaf aroma is slightly chemically, just like the Strawberry Marshmallow Treat Genmaicha. But just like that one, I’m not overly concerned because I expect it to dissipate soon. Besides that, the aroma is toasted rice and peanut-y goodness. Yum!

With the first sip, I literally thought, “WHOA!” This is very flavorful! I’d like to say it’s as close to liquid peanut butter as tea can get, but I have to agree with Awkward Soul that this is more peanut than peanut butter. Regardless, this is truly delicious! The roasty toastiness of the genmaicha is a perfect base for the nuttiness of the peanuts. (Yes, I know peanuts are actually legumes; but for now, I’m going to call them nuts). There’s even a little saltiness that really amps up the yumminess!

This is an interesting blend. If I’m being 100% honest, I’d say this doesn’t taste like marshmallow treats or peanut butter, which is fairly odd since I definitely tasted marshmallow treats in Frank’s other iterations. The most apt description of this one is peanut genmaicha. Even if it doesn’t entirely live up to everything its name promises, I can definitely recommend this blend to anyone who enjoys genmaicha because on that front, it is super yummy!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Bio

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).

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Maryland, USA

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