381 Tasting Notes


apparently my tastes have changed… i used to love this blend and now i have to drop my score on a very large scale. apparently my steady diet of verdant tea and butiki has turned me into a snob.

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drank With Open Eyes by Butiki Teas
381 tasting notes

a hundred times a week (almost always coinciding with an excellent cup of tea) i wonder if there could ever be a way for me to work in tea…. and then i got this sample. and my unwavering answer became nope.

the contents of the sample bag looked a lot like salad and smelled a lot like strawberry. there was no warning. butiki teas should have a sticker with a tongue exploding and morphing into a stretched out paypal symbol. ‘warning: sipping may induce self justified tea budget destruction’.

i taste strawberry madeleines, i taste the meringues that i whip up to put on top of pavlova… it is light, it is airy and i have absolutely NO idea how ginger and strawberry and dragonwell (among other ingredients) could possibly yield this result. how do you plan something like this????

sigh. and as always, if i didn’t have bad timing i would have no timing…. because i placed my butiki order LAST night. i am going to go and hit the ‘add to shopping list button’, reflect on whether or it is possible to be a strategical tea pusher (and whether or not that would even be a bad thing!!!), and assuming that being a tea pusher is possible how much mindblowing skill was employed in the creation that went into my sample bag….

OMG! it’s the lychee oolong all over again!!! sheesh…

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec

I wish I could work in tea too. When I was on mat leave I thought about becoming a tea distributor and starting a small online only business, but realized that I’d be relying on others to create the blends for me, and welll nope.

And if you’re looking to add this to your order, I’d run it by Stacy – maybe she could add it! Especially if she’s on holiday and the order is just sitting til she gets back anyway…

Butiki Teas

JustJames-I’m in the office now and will be working for the next 30-45 minutes. Let me know if you want me to hold your order otherwise it will be shipped today.

Butiki Teas

Actually, maybe I should hold it just in case. I’ll hold it, that way if you want to switch your order up you can.


I could see you being a tea pusher though – you are very poetic with your words – you’d be a marketing dream!


lol, well i’m on my way back to school for occupational psychology with a specific study in motivation. not sure i’d be a good pusher, but once i have my paperwork (and the alphabet soup after my name) i’ll be able to afford my habit!!!

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this is a bittersweet tea for me. i say in my profile that tea is a many splendoured, multi layered thing. tea is where tangible ingredients and steeping instructions connect with intangibles: memory, inspiration, imagination.

many teas that i love have elements of vanilla and almond, there’s a reason for that. thank you stacy for this gateway to memory. i will greedily journey back with every cup.

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 30 sec

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as i sip i identify tastes for what i know and use metaphor for what i do not.

firstly, this is a very soothing blend, as stated. i like vanilla and mint, but they can taste medicinal and i am not a huge fan of lavender. that said, these three elements are a trio, cleverly bonded and timed by stacy and her team! … … (at least i hope she has a team, otherwise this is a whole lot of work for one person). the flavours hit the tongue in sequence— like notes played on a piano:

vanilla (must have been tumbled in a dryer because it is warm and round)
mint (slight sharp sensation)
lavender (toned down and doesn’t crawl up my nose)
leaves a fresh palate.

now the guayasa is something i am unfamiliar with before this tea (yes i know it may have been wiser to sample my sample of plain guayasa first but that didn’t happen so hush! =0) the guayasa adds a further depth to the piano playing flavours reminiscent of benign roots… not like roasted roots (ie parsnips at thanksgiving) more like an alternate earth smell.

alright, this will sound vaguely nuts but what’s new in my reviews? you know when you’re gardening and you pull up something dangerous, deadly nightshade say, and there is this horrible twang that makes you want to shove tea tree oil up your nose to make it quit? THAT IS NOT THE KIND OF ROOT I MEAN. have you ever pulled up one of those huge wanna-be-a-tree dandelions along with its foot and a half long tap root? it doesn’t smell just like soil… it smells sweet and basic, no astrigency. THAT is the root i mean.

i like this! i think (as usual) i will have to tinker a bit, i want it stronger than the directions recommend. i also am getting used to the entirely different way of disseminating caffeine… i can feel it in my body, but haven’t tasted it on my tongue. i suspect that trying to compare this tea to any other kind of leafed tea will leave you frustrated.

PS: contrary being that i am i prefer an 8 minute steep over the recommended 6. it really is a beautiful and effective tea. two cups this morning served as breakfast and lunch and wake up. no crash, no loss of energy. excellent!

195 °F / 90 °C 6 min, 0 sec

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a beautiful blend to behold in the bag, but as i pulled it out on the spoon the hugely long assam fingers would fall off. and once i finally got the pieces into my tea ball i realized there was zero chance i was going to get the lid on… i also didn’t have nearly enough of the blend into the ball. what’s a boy to do? in short commit butiki sacrilege in the form of crunching the bag.

in my tea mad brain i got a lecture from bonnie as i crunched, approval of my critical thinking skills from scribbles, and a moderate wince from stacy when/if she reads this.

the potential for this tea to have been lacking or imbalanced in any number of ways was huge, especially on the part of the assam base. this creation makes me wonder if butiki teas architects are required to have studied gestalt art theory briefly summarized as ‘perception as the product of complex interactions among various stimuli’ and that a whole is worth more than its separate parts. lol.

this tea is a very successfully blended whole—less a caramel vanilla assam to me, and more a spun vanilla sugar highlight laid over a delightfully smooth black.

having been at art school for a very long time i tend to equate the world around me with complimentary senses: so a smell may trigger an image, and a taste may draw out a sound. for me this tea is imagery.


which translates to: skill, diligence and if you weren’t careful as you built it then it all comes tumbling down and leaves you with nothing more than a puddle of goo that you spend the next year trying to scrape off your floor!

very nice! i think in my next cup i may use a bit of brown sugar to draw out just a little bit more of the spun sugar taste, although that will have to be tomorrow as it is already 10pm and i do need sleep!

UPDATE: okay, brown sugar maximizes this tea. my mouth is very happy!

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 15 sec
Butiki Teas

I did wince a tiny bit. Hahaha. Oooh, that spun sugar looks very challenging.


your blend must have been very challenging! i am sorry for my crunching… but my tea ball is a vicious taskmaster regarding what will and will not fit! if it helps i did not (would not) pulverize… just snapper the larger lovelies in half.


As soon as you can ditch the tea ball…do it. The leaves are not happy in such contraptions. A stainless basket where water can flow around the expanding leaves is best or for a by-the-cup portion a finum infuser.


I’ve been known to use a pyrex measuring cup (since it has a spout) and a somewhat fine kitchen strainer in a pinch. :)


@Bonnie…. yeah, i was going to look for a basketed cup today. just have to watch the budget!


okay… i got a proper mug. with a basket strainer. yay stokes! they’re always reasonable and everything in the store was 25% off!!!




You’ll be soooo much happier! I started my loose leaf tea adventures with a tea ball and quickly discovered that the teas didn’t taste very good if the leaves couldn’t fully expand. A brewing basket makes a world of difference!


it gives me an excuse to go back and reassess, lol. i am discovering that the taste is more sincere.

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EDIT: after having butiki teas’ lychee oolong this highly placed tea has to drop a few notches…. i find it comforting, but it is nowhere near as pristine as butiki’s lychee oolong. sorry david…..


I’ve fallen out of love with David a bit since I met Harney&Sons and Butiki. And Verdant.


Is funny how tastes change….I used to love David’s, but I have found that I love roasted oolong’s and pu’erh (pu’erh addiction due to you, JustJames :D!!) Won’t give up on David’s dessert teas… but I think have found my tasting preference. Although, still looking into black tea nuances.

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drank Lychee Oolong by Butiki Teas
381 tasting notes

i’m having a dramatic moment.

in my mind’s eye i am standing at the lip of a great chasm… perhaps the grand canyon, perhaps a crevasse that has opened while climbing k2. in my left hand is my tea cup; oversized, plastic (because i’m forever dropping things)… i sip and become a human incarnation of edvard munch’s ‘the scream’ http://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/asset-viewer/the-scream/eQFdRTFKDtVQ1A?projectId=art-project&source=kp&hl=en . ‘noooooooooooooooooooo!’ i shriek (though much more tastefully than macaulay caulkin in home alone).

this lychee and i were destined to meet. we have been reaching across time and space and infinite galaxies in order to be together… i have been looking for so long. i have found teas named lychee, but they were all lies. this THIS is a lychee tea. i am certain that stacy lim has sent mass quantities of this blend to dr. who to stock the tardis. to me that is the degree of infamy this blend has achieved!

why am i screaming ‘no’, bouncing the word over and over off the walls of an impressive hole in the earth’s crust? because it was only a sample and i’m out now. and i made a stupid promise to myself (that i may deliberately have articulated out loud to my wife) that i would purchase no more tea until the middle of july at least. and then even after i order i have to wait for shipping time.

people say that life’s not fair. i will now take the opportunity to be far more specific: life without tea is not fair.

relevant tea review information outside of drama: tidy rolled balls of oolong that don’t smell dry even when they have not yet been immersed in water. they smell rich and light and floral. this tea doesn’t taste like lychee, it is lychee. i have a series of unusual adjectives i apply to exceptional teas. the most common one is ‘honest’— meaning it is exactly what it says it is. this tea leaves ‘honest’ in the dust and grabs another atypical descriptor: ‘accurate’. this tea is a cup of perfect lychees harvested at the ideal time. not a one was dropped, no bitter peel sullied the fruit.

there is no lychee aside from this.
and i am out.

p.s. thank you stacy for the sample.

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 30 sec

I gotta order this one next time :)


Hopefully you can win is Stacy’s upcoming contest, then it doesn’t really count as buying tea, does it?


contest? what contest?

Terri HarpLady

James, you are awesome! I love this review! Thanks!
And yeah, I guess I’ll have to try a sample of this one too.


That is an amazing review! Woah. I hope Stacy sees this. :)

Butiki Teas

^Indeed it is! I had a very good laugh! :)


You’re so funny James! I’m loving your discovery of pure flavor. So much different than flavors with the awful alcohol bitter aftertaste so many other companies use. I think there’s a thread in the discussion boards on who uses organic or natural and vegan products in tea blends. The three I’m familiar with are Butiki, Steapshoppe and Verdant but I’m sure there are more. This matters to your health issues too for maximum positive effect as it does to me.

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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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