392 Tasting Notes

drank Lychee Oolong by Butiki Teas
392 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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thank you stacy for my sample. i have no problem admitting that i chose this sample as a test, lol. pineapple cilantro cream? sounds lovely… but how would one bring such an unusual blend to fruition? understand that my motives came not at all from maliciousness… stacy of butiki teas has been declared the very best in flavoured teas to me. not by one or two of my steepster friends, but by all of them! imagine the skill sets of one woman being the common point of people all over the planet with disparate tea tastes and backgrounds… lovely! thus, as i perused the butiki website trying to narrow my millions of choices down to three i looked not only at the teas that appealed to me, but also for a single one that i felt would be challenging to execute. this is it!

how do you blend a summer flavour like pineapple, most frequently paired with tropical compliments like coconut, with an asian flavour (that i equate with awesome peanut sauce over noodles) like cilantro without tasting like a take out tea from noodle box? a challenge… that ms. lim met head on.

the bai mudan base has no astringency. it is light and sweet and was an inspired choice for this blend. the pineapple is not overpowering and does not have an overripe flavour. interestingly enough it has a vague roasted flavour to it. the cilantro is subtle, but clear… but it has an unexpected effect: it cools the tongue!

this is the truest summer blend i’ve ever tasted. it is refreshing and light without a hint of bitterness or acid.

brilliant….. just think! this was only the first sample, and i haven’t even started into my order proper!

thank you again, stacy!

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 30 sec

I’m happy to see you haven’t been disappointed by the Butiki teas! :)


(It’s hard sometimes if people are building it up in your head)


nope… zero disappointment. and i’m about to have the lychee oolong now. =0)

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drank Fantasy by Lupicia
392 tasting notes

right off the bat i’m going to say that i’m a bit off today: it was infusion day which segued into physio and all this linked by stop and go traveling through gong show traffic. REALLY… vancouver island is small enough… i have a very hard time believing that we have enough people to turn a freeway into parking lot! in any case, infusion day often leaves me a bit fuzzy with it all blurring together.

the dry tea is choppy, but not equivalent to pieces as big as in a verdant teas blend. i smell apples, but don’t see any. the only bits i see aside from black tea are gold coloured petals. it smells very sweet.

followed the instructions on steeping (what a strange day… i am being very well behaved!)… got a very dark tea from a short steep time, but the smell is still inviting.

overall, not bad. it’s not unforgettable but then outside of the really brilliant companies most aren’t—they’re different versions of something that any number of other vendors have by the same name just with a slightly different spin to it.

my only criticism would be that after a 3 minute steep i had a significant amount of bitterness from the tea! that’s the biggest drag down in terms of marks.

thank you cavocorax for this sample…. i will also thank sil as sil’s name is also listed on the sample bag! lol.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Amandine Rose by Teavana
392 tasting notes

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drank Pu-erh Vanilla Mint by Tealux
392 tasting notes

Not bad. i liked the puerh base, but i found myself wishing somewhat for more of a flavour commitment. i like peppermint tea, and i like vanilla, but despite there being 3 significant taste contributers i still didn’t really get a solid flavour direction or blend. not bad, but just kindof there.

a vanilla based mint where the mint is strong and the vanilla subtle so, a 60/40 mix. or the same ration with a vanilla with a fresher taste of mint? hmmm…. wonder if the puerh was responsible for the murkiness? might be more successful with a black instead….

i any case— not bad, but not great.

OOPS! forgot to thank cavocorax for this insightful sample! i am having one of those days!!!

195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 30 sec

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without intending to my eyes flashed to the vendor’s description as i hit the ‘tasting note’ button…. ‘it would be impossible not to love this tea.’ well then i am an impossible boy.

dry it swells like sweet pipe tobacco, not quite what i was expecting, but as long as it’s not too heavy on the smoke i’m game to try it. as it steeped the smell evolved: tobacco and vanilla. however, once i moved to sipping my adjectives and taste palate vocabulary devolved to just one word ‘NOPE!’.

i must seem exceptionally uncharitable creating an adjective out of such a word, but candor saves time and ‘nope’ is shorter than ‘absolutely not!’.

in order to steep the black tea the higher temperature burns the white. i tasted no cocoa nibs or vanilla, although i did spy little black specks. i taste no malt as was described. what i do get is an on again off again flash of sea weed with tobacco ash.

i understand wanting the best of both worlds from the black and white teas, but i think that when you’re looking at such different steeping temperatures that the calamity that befell my teacup was very predictable.

not sure i will finish this cup. i am certain i won’t finish this sample…. what i will do is go and gargle with sTEAp Shoppe’s cinnamon swirl bread because that one is outstandingly executed.

for the second time this week my score is coming in far lower than the steepsters above me and i do feel the need to reassure those that are reading: i do not have a cold, i do not smoke, i am not terribly picky about foods and i have a freakishly good olfactory sense (nose). i even followed the directions! (not the way i usually roll).

Thanks cavocorax… i didn’t like the tea, but i greatly appreciated the experience. AND if you are someone looking to try a tea that all but one raved about send me a note and we can swap!

185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec

Hmm. I don’t think Kittena and Sil were crazy about it either. I actually haven’t tried it yet, but I’m a bit apprehensive. Maybe buying a small tin was a bad idea? It was probably cheaper for a reason.


i can understand the ideas behind the impulse but the steeping temps just threw the whole thing out of whack. still… the experience was valuable. thank you!


Well maybe I can play around with it. I ’ve got enough of it… :P


please let me know your conclusions… if you have any more miracle tea treatments i might try it again!

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i am a great admirer of verdant teas… my reviews reflect that clearly. it isn’t just the quality of their teas, or their credit given to the He family of tea farmers and traditions, it’s also admiration for their customer service and their understanding of their clientele. this tea, however, expanded my horizon in a manner i wasn’t anticipating.

i joined steepster when i began to take loose leaf tea seriously. i had had a strange series of unfortunate tea events at david’s teas… i’d been back and forth several days in a row with problems ranging from allergies to just not liking what had been recommended to me! my patience was running thin and i was tired of spending my meager budget on gas. i decided to research my teas online before i bought. there through steepster i found verdant teas, butiki, teavana, andrews and dunham… and yes david’s teas (i just improved my margin of error). my eyes were opened and i found myself in love with leaves and flowers across the globe!

i had no idea that the simple act of opening the sample package of this tea would be the start the next stage of my education. the tea was brown as opposed to black, curled, with some leaves as long 2 centimeters. alright, so maybe not a hugely intellectual description, but not too bad either. my real problems arose when i tried to describe the taste.

it was… it reminded me of…. words hadn’t just failed me, they had made mass exodus out of my beleaguered brain. that is a rare occurrence for me! once upon a time i was an english major, i have been an english tutor and editor, always a writer and poet (don’t even get me started on art school). i was very much out of my comfort zone as a digital wordless and stammering goof. time to study.

the taste that was so familiar was a refined echo of a pecco orange black tea…. however, that particular genre can be quite harsh and acrid, whereas this tea was not. why not? because verdant uses (i think my terminology is accurate here) flowery grades… as opposed to many bagged tea blends that use fannings of minute size referred to as dust which are the lowest quality, and quite brutal to drink. i am beyond unqualified to estimate the grade of whole leaf used in this blend, LOL.

back to words i know: i taste earth and ceylon, i taste autumn and not spring, minute traces of citrus. i wonder what crops were planted nearby that vicariously influenced the tea bushes and their progeny. there is also an understated acidity that could have evolved into a harshness but did not and instead added freshness.

i have always been curious, but i can honestly say that A tea has never on its own pressed me into multiple feverish searches through wikipedia.

195 °F / 90 °C 6 min, 0 sec

Verdant has videos and podcasts, lots of info on their website that over time has proved very useful in my tea education.


REALLY?!! this i did not know! thank you for the info!


Your beautiful poetic words depict images of what a tea tastes like. A tea is not restricted to what it actually tastes like; but also a feeling and imagery that words cannot always express, which is how you often describe a tea. This is not a bad way to convey how you feel about a tea and how it tastes to you.


Sorry ’bout double post..thought was editing original post. My bad.


LOL… i can fix it! ZZZZZZZZZAP! see?


I too find it very hard sometimes to come up with the words to describe, especially as I just started trying more quality teas. It’s as if we have to develop a whole new vocabulary!


Hmmm…sounds good. I think I’m going to have to check out the Verdant website


Fuzzy – I agree. Sometimes it’s hard to fully describe the experience of a tea. And for me at least, sometimes I"d rather just enjoy it than try and quantify it. :)

Justjames – I’m happy you made your way over to Steepster. It makes me sad to think of others like you who might have just given up and missed out on the best teas.


this has become a special place for me. i don’t do facebook and i don’t do clubs…. but i always have steepster open and i’m frequently drinking a cup of tea.


Most of the time with spent leaves, good ones, I put them in a bottle of filtered or Spring Water and in the frig it goes to cold brew. Amazing how much flavor is left in the leaves. (If you cold brew oolongs with hard water the flavor can change and become bitter).


Reading my comments I sound like an idiot because I didn’t tell you I liked your review. Stretching beyond the common drinking of the tea to ‘listening’ is what the journey is all about! Not everyone is ready or willing to go there.


i look at this exploration as a journey into health (i hardly drank anything in a day before tea) and something that is worthy of my attention. i was at art school for more than a decade among other things and the artistry and technique… the sheer volume of knowledge put into each creation is incredible. when i like something/one and it/they have earned my respect then they have also earned the effort of my data mining. =0)


lovely review.

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the great thing about a surprise is the many different ways that it can manifest. it can come in the form of ‘BOO!’, a lottery ticket win, realizing that someone was listening when you didn’t realize it and plugged in your favourite movie or meal. this tea was a surprise!

i am the scrooge that picks through the valentine’s day treats and chucks out the cinnamon hearts. they’re revolting. they burn my tongue and i hate the taste. i’m the one that only buys tins of watkins cinnamon because i genuinely think it’s the best tasting. don’t even get me started on oranges in tea: invariably tea companies dig too deep and include too much of the pith in the sample and my tea tastes bitter.

dry this tea smells like souped up cinnamon hearts. steeped… well, the orange much have been zested exactly right and the cloves of good quality because it works really well! surprise! the orange is present but doesn’t mess with my cream.

honestly the day couldn’t be better for it either because while the date may be june 20th it feels more like december 20th… wind, rain and a long day of errand running while it galed around me.

thanks cavocorax!

195 °F / 90 °C 6 min, 0 sec

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thank you so much cavocorax for this sample…. it was my first tasting from 52teas! (very exciting)

when i’m reviewing a tea i make a point of not reading other reviews until after the fact. i am relaying MY tea experience and my interpretation and i would prefer to communicate my strongest thoughts first before i reinterpret with ‘actually, that’s a good point.’ so i have read none of the reviews for this tea but i have seen the rated number… with which i must disagree but will explain why.

the dry leaf has the lovely woody undertone that honeybush alone carries. bits of cinnamon, bits of vanilla, both play a part in the scent profile. the strongest note, however is the strawberries.

strawberries are excellent. they are low in sugar even when they taste crazy sweet, they wear their seeds on the outside (how cool is that?), they are members of the rose family rosaceae, you can dip them in chocolate, whipped cream or put them in tea! strawberries should be at the top of the human edibles food list! (unless you’re allergic and then we could swap it out with melon or i don’t know… mustard.)

even before the waterworks these strawberries were not right to my nose. they smelled very much like the extra ripe strawberries you buy and intend to eat the day of, but then you forget and eat them two days later and you find them over sweet with a turned, almost fermented taste. i was concerned for my cup of tea.

i continued to brew and by the time i got to sipping my opinion had improved somewhat. the strawberries don’t taste right, but neither are they as off as they smelled. if i had to guess i would lean towards the freeze drying as the source of the problem or, perhaps, the harvest time of the strawberries. the berry note is very strongly sweet, but carries with it (to my palate) the distinct twang of ‘damn, i forgot to eat these the other day’. this is not a thing i like.

caveat: as per my post yesterday on cinnamon swirl bread, i was speaking to government ministries all day, so possibly that soured my palate, or perhaps the BRILLIANT cinnamon swirl bread tea made other things seem less than. option 3: steeper error? i will continue to investigate, possibly an iced tea? if my opinion improves i will return and make a note of it.

sorry folks, i have to knock that number down a bit =0(

195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 45 sec

Never feel bad if you don’t like a tea or tea brand everyone else seems to like. I tried 52 tea’s 4 times and gave up. The base didn’t taste right to me. Tastes great to everyone else so there you have it.


+1 with Bonnie !


@Bonnie, true… and tea is very subjective… it just seems odd that i’m coming in so much lower than the vast majority!


Example…there’s a popular butiki tea that my taste buds can’t taste at all. Eggnog. Don’t know why. I don’t rate it…I can’t taste the dang tea. This year, I decided not to rate tea at all because I mostly purchase from only a few companies. I haven’t swapped tea in a year. So, seems simpler.


Don’t worry too much about the ratings. I use mine mostly to signal to myself how much I enjoyed something so that when it comes time to buy new tea, I know which ones and how much.


very sensible from both of you!

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