380 Tasting Notes


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if i had to ascribe this tea an image it would be this: http://fineartamerica.com/featured/black-purple-calla-lilies—1—macro-flowers-fine-art-photography-artecco-fine-art-photography—photograph-by-nadja-drieling.html …this tea unfurls, draws attention, is unusual. you won’t forget it soon, nor should you.

dark chocolate overtones, but no sweetness. molasses. very low acidity. this is a heavy tea that moves and changes in the space between sipping and swallowing.

it metamorphoses in the second steep. it becomes mineral heavy. it has an odd (but not unpleasant) refractive granular quality, but is somehow still smooth.


195 °F / 90 °C 6 min, 0 sec

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this elegant tea has been driving me bananas all day. multiple cups, multiple steepings and the same disconcerting echo: i know this taste, i’ve had it before, what on earth is it??? i have spent my sips narrowing it down.

the sweet fresh taste from pea shoots, the hollow starchy taste from corn milk when you’re husking it, the woody husks you sometimes find on ripe blackberries. to my palate no part of this is connected to a green, black or puerh tea. i have never had a tea remotely like this. there are no floral notes, only fresh, sweet light tones that echo around and around ‘you know me, what’s my name?’

this excellent tea has had me doing circles today! i even gave up one of my precious sample buds to chew on so i could whittle down the taste contributers.

beautiful clear, lovely with cream…. drat i’ve run out…. must look into buying more….

195 °F / 90 °C 6 min, 30 sec

This does stand alone. Sometimes I sense nutmeg too.

Terri HarpLady

I also think “malto meal” or steel cut oats with this one…or maybe cream of wheat? It tastes like a cooked breakfast cereal


well, i’m out now and have ordered more but i will concentrate on nutmeg and steel cut oats when my new batch comes in! i do believe this one has become my new staple…


Now I’m wondering if I should have included this in my order last night! Hmmmmm!


you were ordering last night too? i was going to add something today (hopefully) but it looks as though their site has crashed =0( —hopefully it’s an update and not something more serious.

Terri HarpLady

yeah, they are probably updating it.


hope so… the alternative is stressful!


Just remember: You can get through this! You will SURVIVE! ;-)


lol, i meant for THEM!


lol! Whoops! Well some people around here do turn panicky if they can’t get their favorite teas. :-)

Lily Duckler

thanks for the well-wishes, James. A bit stressful, but nothing Geoffrey can’t conquer! The site will be back up ASAP- I’ll be sure to let you know when it’s restored.

So glad you enjoyed the Yabao! It was the first kind of tea I fell head-over-heels for, and we actually shared a brick of aged yabao with all of the guests when David and I got married. I wonder what the mystery flavor is for you? Can’t wait to hear what it is if you find out!

Fuzzy-Peachkin: if you like (and if your order hasn’t already shipped out), I can make sure that Yabao is your free sample. Just let me know (or PM me).


It’s always exciting for me to read awesome reviews like this for teas I have on the way but haven’t tried yet. Just makes me even more eager for my order to arrive. Nice review James.

Lily Duckler

Quick update: we’re back up and running! To say thank you for all of your patience and support, please enjoy 15% off any of the teas in our shop (good through Monday). Just apply the code UPTIME15 in the cart, and you’ll see the discount applied.

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thank you scribbles for this very unusual tea! okay, i will start by saying that i do like this tea. why say it that way? because i am on the cusp of laughter and i needed to have my enjoyment of the blend stated first, before i have a snicker.

i opened the bag and i smelled neo citron. yup. reading the history behind the blend’s design i wondered if david had a cold or at least a bit of sinus congestion while he was in L.A. i tried to remember whether i had liked neo citron but failed because it always used to knock me out.

being the super steeper that i am i gave it my normal 6 minutes, figured that cream would just give me a mug full of feta but did stir in a bit of sugar. i wafted the vapor towards my nose, a st. bernard named neo making it’s way towards me through the steam. i burst out laughing and took a sip. neo citron! but also not.

much smoother, has a hefty dose of caffeine…and you know what? seriously, the next time i’m miserable with a cold i will brew this up, add honey as opposed to sugar (and maybe some rum) and make this as a toddy! it won’t be an everyday for me, the affiliation with cold medicine is just too old, but it will make an awesome substitute for the junk i’ve taken in the past when i’m sick! (that’s a pretty big compliment).

195 °F / 90 °C 6 min, 0 sec

Paneer. Cream would give you paneer :) it’s the cheese you make by curdling milk with lemon.


true, but i like the visual of floating curds that give an audible thump in your cup…. thus feta! it would have been a feta accomplit! lol. (paneer gives me no pun) ;-D


Either way, ew! To both the cheese and Neocitron. I’m glad I didn’t buy la la lemon though it was on my list.


hee hee hee. it will be a nice alternative to blistering my tongue by mismeasuring the lemon to honey to water ratio of a toddy.

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drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
380 tasting notes

this is a complicated tea, while also being simply striking.

it’s a laoshan black, no big deal…. or so one could mistake by the oversimplified name. this is not a simple anything.

long dark strands that seem innocuous until water was added. dry it smelled like leaves, steeped they became darker and deeper in smell and appearance.

the thing i am discovering about verdant teas is their quiet brilliance. this tea has a heavy dark chocolate-like tone. it’s not from an additive… but from incredible technique.

beautiful clear and untouched, hot, cold or creamed and sugared. my compliments to you verdant teas.

195 °F / 90 °C 6 min, 0 sec
Lily Duckler

Thank you, JustJames- but we have to pass along the compliments to the He Family! It’s a privilege to get to share their teas with the world, and few things make me happier than reading sentiments like yours and passing them on to Mr & Mrs. He.


well earned… i wonder how long it took for the He family to cultivate these magnificent skill sets? it also takes impressive savvy on the part of an investor to recognize the potential of such a product.

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this tea evolves with distinct changes from bag opening to sipping.

-when i opened the bag i smelled roasted coconut with some oolong in the background.
-once the water was added the evolution began, but not in a way i would have predicted: the colour didn’t deepen much but took on a milky hue AND the smell went from a fierce coconut to a lesser coconut with undefinable florals.
-a 6 minute steep because i like a robust tea and this one stayed quite pale.
-cream and sugar because it is the common way i take all but greens.
-on the tongue: i taste coconut and a VERY light oolong, no bitterness, with a refined floral smell at the same time.
-the sip is smooth, as is the caffeine (as opposed to sticky on the tongue).

nicely done tao tea leaf! and a thank you to scribbles for sharing this little gem!

195 °F / 90 °C 6 min, 0 sec

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generally i consider andrews and dunham a staple: their tiger assam, their double knit— this is a company that has studied tea and knows what they’re doing.

i completely understand why this one was named ‘caravan’. i can taste the bonfire smoke and hear the nomads dancing about the flames. if you like a smoke heavy blend that is also smooth then i predict you will bond well with this tea. for my part it was a bit too much smoke, even with cream added. it was, however, very smooth.

thank you to scibbles for this tasting experience!

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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drank Da Hong Pao by Tealux
380 tasting notes

scribbles, you are a hero among everyday folk!

this tea is the classy little black dress that every woman has in her wardrobe, but with a twist: along with this elegant slip the accessory is not pearls or gold, but a cuban cigar. oh yes!

this is a simple black tea. almost purist but for the sweet, smoky taste of organic tobacco leaf. perfectly matched, beautifully balanced. it is not even remotely subtle with its caffeine punch, but it is very smooth.

thank you so much scribbles for sharing! i will meter this out and buy more when i’m done.

….. i wonder sometimes with the amount of tea i consume how it is that i sleep at all, lol.

195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec

I love your description of this! :-)


it was honestly what came to mind as i sipped it, lol.

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drank Queen West Blend by Tealish
380 tasting notes

argh… i am experiencing tea guilt on two fronts: 1) this sample came from my dedicated tea buddy scribbles and 2) i really wanted to like this blend because it’s canadian and i loved the ingredients list.

i tend to like my teas robust, so 1.5 tsps for a steep and steeping for 5-6 minutes. now the smell of this one is excellent when it’s dry! but that’s where it stops. 6 minutes later the tea is weak, the scent that had appealed has vanished. i get a hint of fruit, no hint of the black tea and a heavy stickiness on my tongue from the caffeine (which to me translates as a rooky mistake in processing).

having tried several teas i am fairly comfortable saying i think tealish is great on the idea front, but seriously lacks in their follow through. sadly their teas all taste predominantly the same.

the caveat i will add to my review is this: i am recently out of surgery and things have tasted off to me. while i will not be finishing this cup of tea (yes, it is that bad… guilt guilt guilt) i will try it again in a week or so and review my score.

took another sip…. nope, won’t be finishing the cup. i am going to retreat to the comfort another of the favourite samples that scribbles sent to me…… bluberry jam i think.

205 °F / 96 °C 6 min, 0 sec

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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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