866 Tasting Notes

drank Ying Shan Hong by Yunnan Sourcing
866 tasting notes

Thanks so much Christina for this sample!

I had started a thread regarding compressed black tea. I received a lot of recommendations and Christina thoughtfully offered me some of this tea to try.

The sample I received was a few “chunks” of this tea. The smell upon the hot water hitting the tea immediately reminded me of sweet cinnamon. I wondered for a second if there was some contamination from my tea implements. But the smell quickly faded to subtly sweet black tea scent. A bit of an earthiness smell but still every once in a while my brain tells me cinnamon.

I did the first infusion with just boiled water for 60 seconds. My first thoughts were this tastes kind of musty, or dusty. After a few sips, I think what I am tasting is the chrysanthemum. There is what I would guess to be a slight dried flower floral flavour. The black tea does not seem to be very strong. It is slightly sweet but not getting the cinnamon flavour that I get in the scent. There is a generic light spiciness to the tea. At the end of the sip there is some dryness in my mouth but I would not describe this as astringent. I read someone’s tea blog that described this tea as “autumn” and I would agree.

I am unsure about this tea as of yet. I would not describe it as bad or that I dislike it. I think I am just having a hard time harmonizing with the flavour. I am going to try a few more steeps.

For the second steep I added 30 seconds. I feel like in this steep there is more astringency, especially as the cup cools. The dried floral flavour profile has morphed into a dry hay flavour. I feel like there is quite a bit more earthiness into this steep.

More to come…..

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I picked these ones up on my last visit. It was a bit of a surprise, I had never seen them here before. I am always a sucker for packaging. The store had these bricks packed 5 into a cute little box. I didn’t necessarily want 5, but that is how they came and it was better than having to purchase 50 or 100g.

They are really small mini bricks. About a half inch by half inch. I tried to confirm with the owner of the tea shop what kind of tea it was. All I got was it is real green tea leaves. So I am not sure what kind of green tea, but it is green tea. There are also what appear to be small rose petals in there.

The first time I tried this yesterday, it didn’t quite turn out. I did a quick rinse. I then planned to steep for about 30 seconds as that is how I prefer my green tea. But after about 30 seconds it wasn’t quite the right colour. So I wanted to leave it for a few seconds longer. Then my phone rang and it was an unexpected but important call… And it steeped for about 10 minutes. The brick was completely turned into just free floating large green tea leaves and fair sized pink rose buds. The tea was really bitter and had quite a strong roasted flavour. I steeped the leaves again, for about a minute and it wasn’t too bad. Still roasty, but there was quite a creamy flavour. It reminded me of sencha. There was not much rose flavour.

Today I thought I would try again. I did a quick rinse. I then steeped for 45 seconds, standing over the pot while it steeped. The brick expanded but stayed intact. The liquor was light straw colour. It was a nice, light, fresh green tea. There were light hints of creaminess. There was a very, very light rose, florarl flavour. The rose blended well with the green tea.

The second steep I did about 30 seconds. The brick was starting to break apart but still remained intact, and it brewed up really quick. There are starting to be metallic mineral notes to the green tea. It is also starting to get a little bit astringent. The rose floral is becoming a bit stronger but it is still pleasant.

More steeping to come…. I am not much of a re-steeper but I am interested to see how long this brick lasts for.

Update: I ended up getting 6 – 30 seconds steeps. That is how long it took for the brick to completely break up anyway. I am sure there were more steeps available. It did start to get quite astringent in the last steep and that is why I stopped.

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This tea was a tea that was blended by a local tea merchant, Cuppa’T Specialty Teas, for 2016, which is the 125th Anniversary of Government House in Regina, SK.

Government House was built in 1891, and served as the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of the Northwest Territories. It currently serves as a multi-purpose Heritage Facility and museum. And most importantly, in the spring/summer it serves Victorian High Tea on the weekends.

They did a contest where people could sign up to be a tea taster, there were 3 blends, this fruity blend, a traditional blend, and a maple blend, and I guess this is the one that won.

It is definitely not what I was expecting to be a Government House tea. I would think a bold black with creamy notes, or a black with vanilla, maybe a green with a bit of spice. Something simple but very elegant. I never expected a strawberry mint blend but I guess the description about the gardener makes perfect sense.

The dry tea is small leaves of black tea with very finely chopped mint. There are largish dried strawberries that are all clumped up with tea. It makes me think there was some oil or liquid type flavour that then clumped up all the tea.

The smell is super delicious. It smells like strawberry bubble gum; candied strawvberries with a bit of mint. It is sweet and has quite a bit of “pop” to it.

The tea brewed is ok. There is a black tea base that is slightly astringent at the end of the sip. It is light to moderate boldness. There are definitely cooling mint undertones. I think it is a bit of a spearmint/peppermint mix. It is not very strong but definitely present. The strawberry flavour is unfortunately lacklustre. It is an artificial, but not bad, strawberry flavour. But it loses the pop that the scent had. It definitely needs some sweetness added to it I think.

Overall it is good. The flavours were definitely a surprise from what I was expecting. I think it would be great iced. And maybe iced with lemonade :)

It is available only at Cuppa T and at Government House. All the proceeds go to the Government House Historical Society which supports and preserves this historical site.



200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

that’s pretty cool


I’m quite proud that a historical place would be able to team with a small local artisian to be able to develop a blend/product like this, rather than do something way too commercialized.


That’s so neat!

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Ridiculosity ensues.

The back story: So we are moving locations at work. Closing down the current location and moving to a brand new building. The owners didn’t want to have a lot of down time so there has been a lot of packing of things while everyone continues to work full hours and full duties. It was a ridiculous mess, and things were packed up that were needed and then unpacked and then lost, etc. Lots of stress. So the day before the last day at the old location, the tea kettle was packed up. Blasphemy. But alas, I am a type A tea drinker. So I brought my little hot shot water heater to work the next day. So I get to work. Heat up my water. Get my tea out. My strainer is GONE. GONE I tell you. It was packed up. Who would go into my stuff and pack up the strainer and not the tea? My boss, that’s who. And guess what else. The “random tea bag drawer” is empty :( I had to wait 2 hours for the closest drug store to open to go and buy a bagged tea.

The tea story: I picked this one up based on the fact it was the least scarey for a bagged tea, who wouldn’t like black with vanilla. The box is hilarious. It is supposedly “High Tea”, the French side reads “Haute Societhe”. I actually laughed when I read that. Then I googled the definition of Haute just to make sure I was understanding this right. Haute – fashionably elegant; high class. The box also makes a big deal of this fancy new tea bag string system. A Haute tea string system – cue eye roll.

The scent tea immediately is a turn off for me. All I can think of is why does this black tea smell like rooibos. Then it eventually comes to me that I at one time bought Tetley Madagascar Vanilla rooibos tea and it was disgusting and it smelled exactly like this tea. Its the vanilla. But I suck it up because its tea, and its all I have.

The rant story: This tea bag string system is a joke. It is the kind of string that is all embedded inside the tea bag and you have to pull it out to extend the string. There are two strings. So I pull the strings and it immediately rips the bag open. Whatevs, I have like 20 of the sachets I will prolly never drink again. And the whole idea about this awesome new string system is you can pull the two strings in opposite directions when you are done with the tea and it will squeeze the tea bag out so you get every last drop of flavour. Really Tetley?!? Who squeezes the tea bag? Not me anyway. You simply pull it out of the water, let it drip, then fling it into the garbage hoping you don’t drip on the floor. I obviously did not watch the video on their website about how to use this new tea string system. I guess I am not Haute enough.

Back to the tea story: The tea is what I expected. I already knew I wouldn’t like the tea based on the vanilla smell. The black tea was ok. Not bitter which was nice. Moderately strong based on the crushed up tea dust in the bag. Tasted mostly like an orange pekoe. The vanilla to me is bitter and sweet at the same time and it actually does not taste like vanilla at all. There is only “natural flavours” listed on the ingredients and not actually vanilla so who knows what it really it. It was ok. I guess I am not into Haute vanilla. It gave me my tea fix. I will definitely make sure the tea situation at the new place is much improved.

Haute, so haute.

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec

Haute Sociéthé! Those punny guys haha. So ridiculous. I’m so sorry you had to deal with such a train wreck of a work week. It must have felt like someone was making it as difficult as possible for you to make a freaking cup of tea.


It was a [good] learning experience in a sense. It is amazing to realize how much my day revolves around tea – although this is not really a new realization. And how a good or bad day is determined by good or bad tea.


I think that at a certain point it would just be better to throw some leaves in a cup and pour water over it and drink it with the leaves still in. ;) That sounds like a stressful week! Here’s hoping that unpacking at the new location goes well.


I did consider doing that but the loose tea I had at work gets really bitter if you steep it too long. It still probably would have been better if I had done that versus the horrible bagged tea. Oh well. I made it through the week :)

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drank Assam by Nina's Paris
866 tasting notes

So when I was travelling through Italy the coffee, ie. the espresso, was super amazing. And I have no idea why. I like coffee but not as much as tea. It was pointed out to me that the location/experience can have lots to do with the perception of how good food or drink are.

So today is a super foggy day. One of those fogs where you are immediately wet when you go outside but it isn’t raining. So I decided I wanted to go for a walk around the lake. Those days are going to start getting few and far between with winter coming soon. Usually we are deep in winter by this time of year but for some reason we are experiencing a really nice fall. So I am going to enjoy it as much as I can. The walking path was almost deserted, which was nice. Leaves are still falling off of the trees and there are still ducks and geese hanging out. The air was crisp and fresh and I didn’t feel the cold until I got back inside.

I was cold and wet when I got home. So I brewed up something I have posted on.

I used 3/4 tsp of this assam, 3/4 tsp of lapsang souchong, 4 dried rose buds and a few slices of fresh ginger.

It was so delicious. Better than it has ever been. The assam gave depth, boldness and thickness to the tea. And it cut down a bit on the strong smokey, sometimes bitter, flavour of the lapsang. The lapsang had a great balance of smokeyness to it. The rose always mellows the flavours and blends them together, giving just the slightest floral flavour profile. I like using rose buds because it eliminates the chemical flavour of rose scented tea. The ginger added the right amount of spice. The ginger flavours made the smokey of the lapsang really pop. Like that first wood fire of the winter, that scent you get when you first start in the fire in the chimney. It could have been the brand of teas I used. But it may have just been the experience :)

Evol Ving Ness

This sounds very delicious, especially on a cold day.

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drank House Matcha by Hibiki-an
866 tasting notes

I was getting to the end of my tin of matcha and I wanted to wash it out before I re-filled it again. So I used up what was left to make a matcha latte.

I did about 2 tsp matcha and 1 tsp sugar in 8 oz hot frothed 2% milk. I had a bit of a ginger root hanging around and starting to get old so I added a few slices of fresh ginger.

The latte turned out good. Smooth and sweet. My only complaint is I think the ginger root is enhancing a seaweed flavour in the matcha as I usually do not get that flavour with this matcha, either hot or cold.

The tin is now washed and will dry out for a few days before I refill it again.

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drank Matin Parisien by Mariage Frères
866 tasting notes

So I did something I NEVER do. And I feel guilty, but not really.

I added milk to this tea.

I know most of you are thinking that adding milk is not really a mortal sin. But it kinda is for me. I drink almost all of my tea straight. Except for cold shaken matcha where I add a little bit of sugar. Chai only has milk if it is steeped in milk. And so on.

So I brewed this up this morning and there just wasn’t that magic that was there the first time. There was really not much citrus, there was no creaminess, and definitely no sparkle. It was still good enough to drink but it was not amazing like I remembered it to be.

So mostly because I was too lazy to carry the old tea leaves to the garbage I made a second steep, which is also unusual for me………what is up with me today?!?

And I added some milk…

It was definitely creamier with the milk. Still not much citrus. Better this steep then the first one. Not sure what I did to it for the first steep. Maybe the water was too hot, or too cool, who knows. Just an off tea day today I guess…

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Sounds a lot like my tea habits too, although I tend to add milk to some of DAVIDs’ flavoured blacks. Never French ones, though. And second steeps? Very rare.

But it’s always good to experiment, especially when a tea just isn’t what it was before.

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This was my favourite sample for A Quarter to Tea.

It smells like almonds, nuts, cinnamon and cloves. It reminds me of like a heavy spice cake.

The tea liquor is quite thick. It is also creamy. There are definitely notes of cake and bread. The black tea base is very smooth. No astringency at all. There are flavours of cinnamon and clove but they are not overpowering. I would have almost liked the clove to be a bit stronger. There is a strong nutty flavour to the tea. I am getting just the slightest hint of apple which works really well with the blend. It’s just enough, but not too much.

This tea really reminds me of Christmas/winter flavours, but I would totally drink it all the time.

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Maddy Barone

That sounds delicious!


These A Quarter To Tea teas sound delectable!

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This is my second free sample from A Quarter to Tea.

Unfortunately there was some scent contamination as this tea in dry form just smells like currants and almonds due to the other samples I also asked for.

I used the whole sample for one cup as the pieces were so large. There were large pieces of dried apple as well as some blueberries in my sample but I do not recall any cherries.

I obviously didn’t do this tea any favours by brewing it hot. I would guess that it would be a better cold brew but I tried hot anyway. Initially hot it tasted ok. It tasted more so like dry champagne that had lost all of the carbonation with a bit of slightly bitter white tea. No fruity flavour. As it cooled there was a bit more of an apple flavour. Like a non-sweet apple cider. It still retained the flat champagne flavour. I did not get much fruit other than hints of apple but that may be due to my sample. The bitterness from the white tea faded as it cooled. There was no taste contamination despite the smell.

I would say it was definitely better as it cooled. It tasted a bit more like a mimosa with not so much citrus in it. I think it would have been better with some kind of sweetener like maybe some honey, but I didn’t have anything at work to add in. But I can definitely see where the sangria part comes in.

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Roswell Strange

I did my sample cold brewed; will likely post my review tomorrow.

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drank Earl of Time by A Quarter to Tea
866 tasting notes

I was super excited to get my Quater to Tea samples in the mail yesterday when I got home from work.

As everyone in my life knows, I am a slave to the Earl, so this is the first one I had to try.

The dry tea is small, broken pieces of black tea but there are some currants in it, even for the small sample that I received. There is enough in the sample package for two servings of tea.

The dry tea smells very strongly of artificial cherry candy flavour. Similar to black cherry nibs. The brewed tea does not smell artificial. It is a sweet black currant smell.

This is one of those teas that has a magic timeframe in which to drink it. It is not that it is finicky. But there is very little taste when it is really hot, there is a great taste for that moment it cools a bit, then once it starts to cool a lot it morphs into a bit of artificial tasting. It is also a little metallic tasting as it cools with a bit of an astringent tang. It loses the bergamot flavour and the currant flavour profile be comes quite strong.

While this tea is in its magic moment, there are sweet black and red currant flavours. The bergamot almost tastes like candy. The bergamot and currant flavours blend well together. This blend is quite sweet on its own. The black tea base is moderately bold. It hides underneath the currant flavours. It is smooth and the liquor feels thick. There is initially no bitterness or astringency.

This one is definitely not a traditional Earl Grey as I would say the currant flavours are the dominant flavour. It is still pretty good though. This would probably be a good tea for those bergamot-haters out there (cough, cough…Sil).

Thanks to A Quarter to Tea for the free samples.

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML


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I am a lifetime tea lover.

I did foray into the world of coffee for a period of time, but I returned to my true love. I still, however, enjoy a good cup of java.

My all time favorite tea is Earl Grey, which I drink every morning, the stronger the bergamot the better. I definitely prefer natural oil of bergamot to artificial flavouring.

I mostly like black and dark oolong teas. My current favs are Fujian blacks, Keemun and Assams, and Wuyi oolongs. I gravitate towards anything with lychee in it. I also drink a lot of herbal blends but am wary of hibiscus. I do not favour mate, or pu’erh tea, although I have found a few blends that I like. (I so badly want to like straight pu’erh tea but it all tastes gross to me. I keep trying though). Rooibos, green and white teas fall somewhere in the middle. I find myself gravitating towards heavily roasted oolongs and teas from Paris/France based companies.

I love iced teas and cold brews.

My current tea goal is to make the perfect cup of chai from scratch – almost there…I think.

I am in love with the whole experience of tea.


Saskatchewan, CANADA

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