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344 Tasting Notes

drank Chinese Flower by Harney & Sons
344 tasting notes

my it’s been a couple of days! brilliant because of classes winding down and very satisfying grades being locked in place…. but sad with the death of nelson mandela. i wonder if it would have hit me as profoundly before one of my majors had me studying people and the influence that we outwardly have on one another on one another in my human geography class….. there is no way for me to answer.

perhaps it is a lack of faith on my part, that as the old guard ages and passes (mandela, the dalai lama, mother theresa) that while there will always be good people, i don’t see any obvious stand ins for these outstanding individuals. brangelina? bono who got a TED award? i don’t think so……

SO i wrote that bit about 9 hours ago. stopped after the dot dot dots. dropped. wound up in an ambulance and at the hospital. KIDNEY STONES.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? so, surgery on one eye coming up…. and a stone IN ONE KIDNEY???? they’re asking me about pain levels in the ambulance ‘out of 10 sir’. 10? make it 20 and it would still be 21!!!!! OMG.

the tea. okay…. this was more of a frustrated rant and less a review. i don’t remember the tea. but i have another sample from stephanie.



Whoa! I am so sorry. I hope you can find some comfort soon. Kidney Stones suck.

As for outstanding individuals the first person I thought of was


Ok… I can’t type. Anyway, I was going to say Malala. I know ahe’s young, but she’s also using her voice in a powerful way.


woah hope you get back to better soon mister…sorry for the crappy times :(


malala? i will look her up. thanks veronica.


Seconding Malala. Very bright young girl, although I worry about the pressure that is currently resting on her tiny shoulders. and my dear James, rest up! I’m worried about you, and am sorry you were in so much pain!


Ow James! I’ve heard that’s horrible. Malala the first that came to my mind as well. Another person that comes to mind for me is the Bangledashi man who started the micro financing movement. I forget his name, but micro financing has changed many peoples lives in huge ways.


i just keep thinking ‘um…. final project? final exam? HELLO?? B.E.T.T.E.R. things to do!’ but i can’t even think because they gave me a really good drug. NOT an opiate (wouldn’t let em’….. by IV? nuh uh) but a really good anti inflammatory….. but it’s still making me fuzzy.



Oh my gosh, that is awful! I hope you feel better soon!!


yes, grameen…. that’s true, yyz.

i know there are brilliant minds on TED… and i know there are good people every place i look. genuinely. but i find it disconcerting when the people that i have spent my life admiring start popping off.


thanks caile. it has just been a STUPID month health wise. absolutely ridiculous!!


It does sound like a terrible month! A big hug for you!


I think I have had to deal with the knowledge of death since I was very young so it bothers me a little less. It’s still sad and the passing of great persons seem to in away acting as book marks or closures to great era’s, but my family tends to have children late and the men at least live long lives so this cycle seems a little expected and natural to me. My grandfather knew Dali, Hemingway, and Castro. Having said that Mandela was truly a great man.


yyz…. someday i think we should meet. for tea. someplace. i have a feeling you are a story keeper….


ackackack, i am sorry to hear the bad news. i’ve had friends tell me kidney stones were the worst pain they’ve ever felt, like worse than childbirth or any other medical malady they’ve encountered. you are tough!


:( I’m sorry. I hope you recover quickly!


well, miss july, i am nursing my kidneys (i’ve been told to drink and drink and drink….. i’m thrilled about the tea part, less so about if things get blocked again part) back to health with your awesome fruits d’alsace sample. it makes me feel better.

i don’t feel tough. i feel distinctly whiney, lol. makes me wonder if it’s been brewing for a few days though because i’ve been in a rotten mood for a few days without explanation.



Oh, sweet goodness! I REALLY hope that this gets resolved soon and you recover quickly. Kidney stones are the opposite of fun. :/


i just wish i knew if there was anything i could do to make sure this one goes AWAY and that it’a a one time occurrence!


There are dietary things that you can avoid to reduce the chances, but I’m not sure about guaranteeing that you never get them again. :/ You kinda need your kidneys, so it’s not like you can take them out like you can a gall bladder! :) I haven’t had them, but an ex did. I don’t remember what was recommended, sadly.


all they said was ‘drink’…. which is great…. but wow it hurts! i asked every question my addled brain could think up…. boils down to: many studies, no definitive answers. drink.

not sure how i’m going to pull off my exam of tuesday: can’t see, and now pain meds. greeeeeeeeeeeeat. hmph.


Haha, and you’ll be asking to go to the washroom every 5 minutes if you’re drinking enough, too. :D


well, i have a note from the ERP. this month is ridiculous!!


Awwwwww, I bet that was so painful! Feel better JustJames! :(

Terri HarpLady

Oh James, so sorry you have to suffer this :(
Here comes the woo-woo esoteric view: kidney stones are the physical manifestation of the sorrows/griefs we hold/repress, because the are painful to express. Sound like you are in the process of letting go of something, hence the stone is on the move!
The only pain in change is our resistance, I like to say, although sometimes it hurts like hell! Sending some Reiki your way!


I’m so sorry and I hope you get better soon


terri….. that is a remarkable thought! i have never heard that before. fascinating! not woo-woo, lol…..


boychik, i’m feeling a bit better today…. stressed to the max. i have until 11:59 pm to finish a massive project and then an exam tuesday. no idea how this is going to work. none.


stephanie, i’m so sorry i couldn’t comment on your lovely tea! i don’t remember it at all =0(, but i have another bag =0)


Drink, yes. You should be drinking enough to urinate about 2L a day – when you’ve got kidney stones, output decreases dramatically, and it’s how I know I’ve got to start drinking more liquids. Increase your fiber intake slowly and keep it there – it helps get rid of the calcium and oxalate (sp?) that turns into kidney stones. Reduce salt where possible. Also, find teas with (or add yourself) some nettle leaf, which will promote urination and help flush things out to reduce the pain. I actually have a tea for this somewhere with a horrible name and okay taste, and it usually reduces/removes the pain for me in a day or two. I’ll see it has any of your known allergens in it, and if not, I’ll send some your way ASAP.


You’re going to have a bad association with this tea now, I bet! And don’t apologize! :)


Oh my. Feel better!


thanks Kaylee….. it’s been a stupid month, lol. random beyond random.


Geez…so sorry for all your pain :-(

I have had kidney stones before
(In the hospital with projectile vomiting from the pain)
I have also had many serious eye issues, torn cornea,
ulcers on cornea, cellulitis in my eye (hospitalized AGAIN)
I just said a prayer for you, and now I am going to drink
a cup of tea in your honor ;-) Creamy Earl Grey (DT)
the most relaxing version of my favorite tea.
Seriously, I pray tou are 100% feeling good way before Christmas


You not tou…lol…sometimes I type dislexic


thank you for such kindness CelebriTEA. i am really not a happy drug person normally, and i refused opiates….. but they gave me torridol? which is an awesome anti inflammatory…. that helped alot. i was still foggy, but it could very well have been from pain.

going to make tea now. and study. one last exam. tomorrow.

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drank Tourbillon by Dammann Freres
344 tasting notes

this was one of the last teas remaining from my truly life changing exchange with Ysaurella…. life changing how? well, french teas are wont to do that.

…. ……. unless you are james and the blend has any caramel or toffee basis whatsoever. because i can’t taste it. the tea was very smooth. but it was just tea to me…. there was no other flavour. sorry Ysaurella!!!!

no numbers because this is a genetic oops, not a tea oops.

it really is weird… i can smell the stuff, but i can’t taste it =0(
not once— every single time in every single tea.


Oh, wow! Here I thought it was the tea when you mentioned this to me the other day with something I’d sent you. Now I get it. It’s just a flavor your tastebuds refuse to acknowledge. Phooey.


i cannot explain the phenomenon. not in the least. everything else i can taste to a microscopic degree….. not this one. BUT i CAN taste butiki’s caramel vanilla assam. IT MAKES NO SENSE!!!! lol


I understand. I can’t taste some green tea’s at all. Some of Stacy at Butiki’s tea (Eggnog for example) I can smell but not taste.


i think ‘why’ is a perfectly good question to ask…., lol.

Aimee Popovacki

i get that a lot with white teas… no matter what it smells like i get this weird taste that tastes almost like stale tea.

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drank Oreo Cookie by Tea Desire
344 tasting notes

i’m tired. it’s late. i should be sleeping….. i REALLY should be sleeping, instead i am going to enjoy one last moment for myself before the sun rises on another gong show tomorrow…..

i have no idea how this tea accomplishes oreo, but it does. i actually feel the need to confess that i have always been an oreo brat….. everyone knows the only reason the chocolate cookies are there is to hold the yummy icing in place.

i would unscrew the two cookies, scrape the icing off of each with my teeth, then chuck the cookies. you could argue that it was wasteful, but i would argue that in fact it was a reliable method of sustainable caloric intake =0) i could eat more icing while eating fewer cookies, see? perfect sense!

that said, i was always in trouble over it though….. well, mostly just when i stuck them back together and put them back in the bag. it’s kindof amazing i don’t have a back condition from the amount i got spanked as a kid, lol!!!

this tea is white icing all the way…. no chocolate cookie. but that’s okay because i’d have to pick out the chocolate bits and mail them back to MissB. hee hee hee…..

NOW sleeping is not optional.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
BrewTEAlly Sweet

Oh my gawd! Oreo brat right here (raises hand)!!!

BrewTEAlly Sweet

I need this tea in my life!


yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! i’m not alone!

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drank Muscat Oolong by Lupicia
344 tasting notes

lol, this one is fun. deep, sweet dessert grapes, reminiscent of the ones i used to shove in the freezer and suck the syrup out of when i was a kid. very grape, but not candy. perfect to finish up a ridiculously long day before i take on another.

there is a great element to this blend…. there’s a hint of stem to it!

sorry…. not my best review. too tired.

thanks to ifjuly for this one!

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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this enticing sample came to me by way of MissB.

not a blend i would normally have purchased for myself, but lovely to try nonetheless. this tea is stewed apricots in a cup! i have tried mangosteen, lychee, dragonfruit and any number of other exotic fruits that make steepster’s autocorrect put endless red squiggly lines under my writing.

i had never heard of maracuja before, and i will likely forget the name until i read it again, lol. i will however forever remember this blend as rich, heavy, juicy stewed apricots. delectable.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec



JustJames, you are really quite the poet. Your tasting notes are always so fun to read.


i love tea =0) …. hee hee, and love messing with steepster’s red vocab squiggles ;-P


This tea place is the warehouse down the street from my place, and I added this particular tea to my order only because of the unique ingredient name. I’m thrilled you enjoyed it!


wow, i’ve never heard of it either. that sounds really interesting, all those exotic fruits. yum.


oh wait, i misread, ha. still intriguing though!

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drank Hepburn by Nina's Paris
344 tasting notes

luxurious definitely….. strong orange presence that doesn’t overwhelm and carries no bitterness. the chocolate aspect is neither a milk nor a dark…. a very nice cross.

i find myself in an awkward position— i like this but….

i have yet to find a company whose expertise trumps nina’s paris with fruit, berries specifically, red berries more specifically.

i will assume this comes down to personal preference only…. and given the respect i have for this apothecary i do not like to withold numbers based on that.

technically: a very smooth base, a very balanced blend. the orange and chocolate sit at 60/40, respectively in terms of presence…. the cream i don’t detect, but i’m not sure it’s supposed to be a taste so much as a texture. as a texture it is definitely there. i do feel this blend accomplishes what it sets out to do…. it’s just not my favourite nina’s blend is all.

the number you see is what i rank the accomplishment at.

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I LOVE Nina’s Paris teas as well. Its like magic how they can get the blends to taste just right.


agreed…. i think i might just be partial to the red fruit is all, lol. that said, they are SO exceptional, i don’t like to hold out a number when it’s not their failure but my preference that’s getting in the way.

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this is very clever. brendan, if your goal is not just to blend a tea then i will state this one an absolute success.

let’s begin however, with what this is not: it is NOT graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate in a tea.

what this is: a snapshot of someone(s) crouched by a campfire, the wind blowing slightly against their favour, trying to pull the roasted marshmallows off their roasting stick without blistering their fingers (they escape mostly unburned, lol).

layers. i really can’t wrap my brain around how you accomplished them.

-i get heat and smoke. they are SEPARATE. and the smoke is not a souchong source. by diagnosis of my tongue it is campfire smoke. the warmth is distinct but seems not to be coming from a spice.

-cinnamon and a cookie qualifier are there… they chime in after the smoke and i would count as layer 2.

-layer 3 is fruit, although very distant and not nameable…. at least not in this first steep.

-4 a softness is beginning to start which i believe will end up as marshmallow.

i don’t know if this is the order that you put them down in, but this is how they manifest for me.

this is an impressive accomplishment. this is less a tea and more a stillframe. and this coming from someone who does NOT particularly favour smoke in tea.

i did amend my methodology given that you are so beautifully purist in your blending brendan: i overleafed (1.5 tbsp) for my 12 oz mug and 2) i used 1 tbsp of coconut sugar. i think the effect is brilliant.

as it cools the warmth is still there, the smoke is SWEETENING, but a charcoal element in also settling in. very, very nicely done.

so if this tea is a memory for you…. let me ask: did your fingers get burned? or was my tongue off? =0)

thanks to MissB for this excellent adventure!

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
Whispering Pines Tea Company

I let my marshmallows catch fire and forgot my s’mores on a hot rock. My tongue was burned yet I managed to save it with some raw honey :)

Glad you enjoyed this memory, James :)


so i was in the ballpark, lol. nicely done…. nicely done.

Whispering Pines Tea Company

Thanks, James! I’m glad you’ve had a good introduction to WPTC :D


and that’s down to your skill set and MissB’s generosity.

Whispering Pines Tea Company

:) Thanks for the kind words! And thanks for the kind MissB, too!

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drank Bamboo-Pomelo by TeaGschwendner
344 tasting notes


this is a briliiant tea. WOW! fresh squeezed grapefruit juice as it was steeping, tempered by the bamboo shoots as i am sipping. fresh, sweet, lively, juicy: i taste the texture of pulp. i feel the texture of pomelo rind…. i get no pith (ie no lingering bitterness). beautiful!

i really wouldn’t have expected to love this tea as much as i do. i’ve been on a french kick for several months now and teas from our part of the world often just don’t match up…… that is NOT the case with this one.

i want a pound of this in a canister in my kitchen. all the time.

a HUGE thanks to MissB for this outstanding sample!!!

175 °F / 79 °C 6 min, 0 sec
Ceylon Star

okay, i need to get me some of that ASAP! LOVE a good grapefruit tea, and this sounds totally up my alley!!!


definitely worthy of investment.

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drank The Black Lotus by Butiki Teas
344 tasting notes

every 500 years there is an eclipse… the world is dark but for certain iridescent flowers. only upon the most still lakes and ponds does it gleam… the black lotus; invisible by sunlight, black light, flashlight… the only way to see this bloom is during the mere moments it exists as it floats silently by in the impossible light of the eclipse.

don’t blink.

don’t close your eyes for an instant.

the black lotus exists only for that singular drift, which stacy lim knows all too well. the secret of the black lotus has been handed down from mother to daughter within her family since time out of mind.

brown sugar flowers drifting across the water, drifting tendrils of roots trace patterns along the water, contemplating the brief existence and amber legacy it would leave at stacy’s persuasive coaxing.

such a rare existence, such a rare privilege.

thank you ifjuly. such a beautiful experience you shared…

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James, thanks for sharing poetry tonight. At this point it reminds me of Marquez ( or the English translator of, I’ve only read one of his books in Spanish) lyrical and beautiful.


i was published for poetry a long time ago…. under very special circumstances i make a return trip. you have made me blush… thank you for your kindness.


Yay! I am thrilled you enjoyed it so much you wrote a beautiful review like this. It is a great feeling to share a favorite tea, one that moves me, and discover the person you send it to understands and shares that feeling. Thank you so much for that, I treasure it. Swaps are the best. :D


they are indeed…. i am going to start nagging about whether mine has arrived yet, lol. so… has it?


not yet, but i don’t see how it could’ve given the holiday weekend and all that (if it passed into the US around then that is). i like being excited knowing it’s coming soon. :D


i could call customs…. start leaving messages and whatnot. =0)


is my number for them right? 1-800-is-it-there-yet?

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Time For A ReWrite!

A good friend of mine on here kindly asked me to do the Steepster world a favour and list my allergies front and center (fair enough, lol):

-COFFEE … rare, nasty, not even a bit funny if i’m exposed. (call me original)

-ROOIBOOS … is a new appearance. under certain circumstances i’m okay with it (ie if it’s GREEN and paired with mate) but because i have an auto immune disease i try not to poke at things.

*NOT an allergy, but an abnormality that drives my tea buddies bananas, i AM INCAPABLE OF TASTING CARAMEL AND TOFFEE. so i thought i’d list it at the top too. it’s very annoying. they smell great!!?

Hi! I’m James!

I’m a student: double major of human geography and psychology with the intention of chasing a double doctorate. (reading that over it occurs to me again that i must be crazy).

i’m a live and let live sort. i look and see alot of silver linings. my discovery of tea has only served to further that viewpoint. for me tea is art and nuance, watercolours and bold brushstrokes….

swaps are grand things! the element of surprise in a tea swap completely trumps forrest gump’s chocolate box life metaphor, lol.

favourites: french teas dammann freres, mariage freres and nina’s paris especially.

i have recently discovered a german tea company that has romanced me: tea gschwendner (sp?)

mandala teas is brilliant and a company i count on.

justea and tealet are companies i study because of both their exceptional products and and business models, as well as their work with farmers who are TOO POOR for fair trade certification. this is highly relevant to my studies.

90-100 i need more
80-90 i might need more, or it might be a respect vote
below 75? it was likely an oops buy. my evolution into french teas has vastly focused what i like!!

however, i’m always open to trying things.

dislikes so far: guayasa, darjeeling, most peach teas.


Victoria, BC

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