93 Tasting Notes

90

I discovered this gem while touring Celestial Seasoning’s plant in Boulder Thanksgiving of 2011. I highly recommend the tour and tasting room to anyone who finds themselves in the area! While on the tour, the guide told us about an extra-caffeinated tea that had been discontinued, but recently brought back into production due to its large cult following. Being a graduate student who regularly works late into the night, I had to check it out. From the first sip, I was hooked!

I bought an entire case (6 boxes) in the gift shop after the tour and ordered another case online a few months after that. I went through a phase where I was completely obsessed with this tea. I still adore it, and it’s probably the only bagged tea that I will regularly buy when it runs out. My caffeine tolerance is not what it used to be, so I haven’t enjoyed a cup of Fast Lane for a very long time until last night when I needed an extra caffeine boost. I was a little surprised by how much I still love it after making the switch to loose tea.

I love the smell of this both bagged and brewed. The cinnamon dominates and has the quality reminiscent of baked cookies (rather than red hot candies). There’s also a sweetness that I think comes from the cola nut. It’s divine. This tea is really smooth, so long as you pay attention to steeping time.

It sounds completely crazy, but sometimes I wish there was a caffeine free variety of Fast Lane. I know it completely defeats the purpose, but it tastes so damn good that I wish I could drink it more often without staying up all night!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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76

HOLY SMOKES!

This morning I decided to drink some tea in my collection that I haven’t tried yet. I found a package of this buried deep in my tea drawer. For some reason I expected this to be boring, maybe that’s why it’s been sitting around collecting dust. This was definitely NOT a boring tea.

I read the label before tearing open the package and figured the “aroma of pine wood fire” was going to be one of those nuanced things that only people with more refined taste/smell would detect. Imagine my surprise when I tore open the package and BAM, instant campfire smell. I had no clue that lapsang souchong is actually smoked! (As a side note, the small silver zipper bags that DAVIDsTEA uses are amazing at blocking the smell. I wish I could buy these bags to store/swap tea in.)

Once steeped, the tea still has a strong smoky aroma and flavor, though not quite as overwhelming as the dry leaves. It definitely had a whiskey-like quality to the taste as well. I got a very good three steeps out of this (adding 30s to the steeping time with each resteep). It’s probably good for another steep or two, but I just can’t make myself drink that much smoky tea. I would be interested in trying other varieties of lapsang souchong to see how this compares.

The bottom line is that this tea has an excellent smoky smell and taste that is reminiscent of whiskey, but you should definitely be in the mood for it.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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96
drank Cha Yen Thai by Teavana
93 tasting notes

I am in love with this tea! Why, oh why didn’t I buy more of this when it was $6.80/lb?!?! I can drink crappy tea for $6.80/lb… and this is an incredibly delicious tea. Of all the Teavana teas I’ve tried, this is the only one that I would consider a staple in my cabinet.

This tea is such a pretty blend. I can see plenty of pink peppercorns, cardamom pods, whole star anise, coconut shavings, almond slivers… and tea too of course. ;)

When opening the tin, I get an immediate whiff of almond. The most prominent flavors in the tea are the almond and coconut with a hint of pineapple. The cinnamon and cloves are definitely in the background and complement the flavor nicely.

Like many other reviewers have said, I don’t think that it’s possible to mess up this tea. I’ve made it in less than ideal situations (for example, with water heated up by hotel coffee pots) and have steeped it for way too long, and not long enough and it’s always delicious.

I generally get two really good steeps out of this tea.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Marcel Duchamp

I like this tea a lot too. Its a staple for me as well.

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88

I received a “try me” size of this in the mystery box I ordered from Della Terra. To sum this tea up in a single word: YUM!

The leaves smell nice, but I wasn’t overly excited about this tea until I tasted it.

The first infusion was a beautiful dark red color and smelled divine! The maple was very prominent in both the smell and taste and seems very natural. It’s like drinking maple syrup in tea form, which may be a turn off for some. If you love maple, this tea is a must-try!

It also resteeps fairly well. I let the second steep go on for 10 minutes. The liquor is much paler, but I still taste wonderful maple goodness.

I’ll definitely be ordering this again!

Preparation
Boiling 7 min, 0 sec

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82

I got a good 4 steeps out of this today! The lemon is most prominent in the first two steeps and then fades away leaving behind a very pleasant green tea taste.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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72
drank Hot Lips (organic) by DAVIDsTEA
93 tasting notes

The dry leaves smell just like the cinnamon hard candy I used to have at my grandma’s house when I was a kid.

When drinking this tea, I taste the sweetness of the cinnamon and undertones of heat from the chili peppers. It’s pretty good, but I wish there was more green tea flavor coming through.

The second steep was also good— very similar to the first steep. I didn’t fancy drinking a third cup, but I imagine that the third steep would have also been good.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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74
drank Cherry Blossom by Harney & Sons
93 tasting notes

Cherries are my absolutely favorite fruit, which compels me to try out anything cherry-flavored.

The sachets came in an adorable tin and have a rather pleasant, sweet cherry blossom smell. The brewing instructions suggest steeping for 3 minutes. I cut that in half to avoid the bitterness that I usually detect when brewing green teas for that long.

The tea is a nice pale yellow and has a sweet smell. The cherry blossom scent seems a bit artificial and so does the taste, but it’s still quite good. The green tea is mild without a hint of bitterness.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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51
drank Jumpy Monkey by DAVIDsTEA
93 tasting notes

I’ll start this off by saying that I’ve never tasted a maté that I’ve liked, nor am I a fan of coffee. Needless to say, I was not thrilled when I received this as one of the free samples I received with my Boxing Day haul. Despite this, I decided to give it a go. It was surprisingly drinkable!

The leaves have a nice coffee smell and there are several coffee beans visible. When brewed it had a light amber color and smelled mostly of coffee with hints of maté in the background. The flavor was not unpleasant and would likely be very pleasant to someone who actually enjoys coffee and maté. That someone is just not me.

If you enjoy maté and/or coffee, definitely try this out!!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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87
drank Big Apple by DAVIDsTEA
93 tasting notes

For the second infusion, I let it steep for just 1:30. The bitterness I experienced with the first steep was completely gone. There is still a nice apple flavor, but the vanilla I tasted in the first brewing is no longer detectable.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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87
drank Big Apple by DAVIDsTEA
93 tasting notes

This came as a sample with my Boxing Day haul. I probably would not have purchased it for myself, but I am so glad it came with my order. I love it!

There are generous chunks of dried apple in this tea. The smell is wonderful! Apple is the most dominant smell, followed by vanilla.

The package suggests brewing this tea at 92C/198F for 3-4 minutes, which doesn’t seem right to me for a white/green mix. I instead brewed it for 2:30 at 180F.

There was a slight bitter aftertaste which hints to me that I oversteeped it a little bit, but otherwise the taste was amazing. It’s like having apple pie with vanilla ice cream. Cinnamon would have been a lovely addition to this tea. I taste a very faint cinnamon flavor, but it’s not listed in the ingredients so it may be my imagination.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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Profile

Bio

I’m a Floridian living in Kansas and currently pursuing a physics Ph.D. by day (…and by night, who am I kidding?) with an immense love for all things tea.

Rating Scheme:

<50 = Undrinkable.
50-59 = Drinkable, but not my cuppa.
60-69 = Decent, but nothing to write home about.
70-79 = Good tea that I drink occasionally. Probably will not restock when it runs out.
80-89 = Very tasty. May or may not restock when it runs out.
90-100 = Delicious. A staple in my collection.

Location

Manhattan, KS

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