863 Tasting Notes

drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
863 tasting notes

Big thanks and also big apologies to Sil. She put this one in the GCTTB 3 for me at my request and I am just getting to it now. I have been wanting to try this one for a long time and I wanted to make sure I had enough dedicated time to really give it a good try.

So most of you here on steepster know that I just don’t like pu’erh. I have tried many a tea and know what I do and do not like. The problem is, that I really, really want to like pu’erh. I just don’t :( So I wanted to give this one a try as it is so highly rated here on steepster as well as elsewhere in the tea universe.

I brewed this one as per the recommended instructions on the packaging. 1TBSP per 8 oz boiling water, first steep of 30 seconds. The brewed tea is quite dark. It has a gentle sweet smell. I am getting hints of wet moss as well as dried wheat noodles. I know that must sounds super appetizing. It tastes quite thick and creamy. There are very slight notes of dark chocolate, like 85% cocoa, but the strongest flavour I am getting is wet black soil. As it cools more, the “earthy” types notes become stronger.

For the second steep, I added 15 seconds as per the recommendations. It brewed up very dark, just like the first steep. The smell of the brewed tea is the same as the first steep. The flavour profile is also the same as the first steep but the liquor is not as thick.

For the third steep, I again added 15 seconds as per the recommendations. It brewed up noticeable less dark than the first two steeps. I found the scent to be much more earthy. There is a slight mushroom scent to it I think. The taste is again much more earthy. Decomposing leaves, I am getting that slight mushroom flavour, just like in the scent. There is no sweetness to this steep, as well as no cocoa flavour.

I did not attempt a fourth steep, even though the description on the tea packaging states this tea can get as many as 4 steeps.

Overall, the answer is still that I just don’t like pu’erh. I am confident enough in all of the teas that I have tried to be able to say that. I just don’t like the taste/flavour profile in pu’erh tea. I am happy to have had the opportunity to try this tea as it is so highly rated, so I know it is just not the teas I have tried.


glad to help out! It’s nice to be able to cross things off lists :)

Louise Li

Hi Lala, it maybe the coffee drinker in you not liking pu-eh.
I am a coffee addict, and I can’t stand pu-eh.

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I bought this from the website where I buy a ridiculous amount of [super awesome] lunch-ware (www.en.bentoandco.com). They sell a lot of neat Japanese things, kitchen ware and occasionally food and treats. The Japanese Kit Kats are amazing. So amazing I refuse to share.

I picked this up to try with one of my last orders. It is more of a cooking grade matcha but I used it for my daily cold matcha. It came is the most ridiculously awesome container. The container does not contain any English labelling so I am not sure what company actually produces this matcha. It has a tin, peel off lid, like the kind you get on some brands of tuna. And to top it off there is a sticker on top which gives pictoral instructions on how to open it. Once you peel off the lid, there is a mesh screen which you can sift the matcha through. You can remove this screen if you want to scoop out the matcha. (For those of you who follow me, you know I am the hugest sucker for ridiculous marketing techniques and fun tea presentation).

The colour was a nice green, it wasn’t too bright but it wasn’t dull either. It was definitely green and not brown.

I did my usual heaping 1 tsp in 8 oz water with a dash of white sugar. I did sift it through my usual matcha sifter. I always prepare it the night before cuz who has time to get stuff ready in the morning before work. By the morning, when I added the water and shook it up, it was pretty lumpy. It took some actual physical activity to get it shaken up enough to be dissolved.

Taste wise it was pretty good. A smooth taste, but a bit gritty in the sensation. Slightly sweet, no bitterness. There was quite a bit of sediment in the bottom of the glass by the time I was finished.

I will probably return to my other higher grade matcha once this is done but I am glad I tried it.

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drank Jamais Vu by Nina's Paris
863 tasting notes

This one quit a strong smell in both dry and brewed form. I feel like it smells like tart apples.

I am finding this one a bit more bold an the usual Nina’s Paris black base but that could be my steeping parameters. I think it is better at a lower temp.

I am tasting lots of orange and orange peel. There’s a very strong tart Apple taste but I am wondering if that is supposed to be the pineapple. There is a strong undertone of safflowers.

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Have you been to Starbucks lately…because I have.

So this one is Tim Hortons Peach Drink meets latte. The penultimate Canadian beverage, after anything maple that is.


So this is a new Starbucks drink, only in Canada apparently. It is delicious. I did not realize at the time but it is basically an earl grey latte with peach syrup added. I didn’t even realize it was an earl grey. Mine didn’t come with whip and a candied peach topping but whatevs, it was so super delicious. My new fav.


OMG that sounds delish, I’ll have to stop by Starbucks after work and try one.

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drank Sweet Orange Spice by Tea Forte
863 tasting notes


I pulled this one out of the box for one very specific reason. A few years ago, in a sample pack of Tea Forte, I had tried Moroccan Orange Blossom tea. I absolutely loved it. Even if I am the only one on the internet to give it a good review, I still maintain it was delicious. I have not been able to find a suitable alternative with any other tea companies.

I pulled this one out of the box because it was Tea Forte and had orange in the name. But I failed to look at the description. It describes orange with cinnamon. I just don’t see how orange would ever go with cinnamon. Maybe orange peel, but not orange.

The tea bag, once unwrapped, smelled strongly of sweet cinnamon. The brewed tea smells like cinnamon hot lips.

The tea tastes like a very strong, somewhat bitter black tea. The cinnamon is very flat, not much bite to it. I am not picking up too much citrus but there is a sweetness to the tea which could be reminiscent of citrus.

I have never really thought much of Tea Forte, except for the moroccan orange blossom of course. This tea falls into the not think too much of it category.

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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This is a nice smooth, mild black tea. There are light hints of sweet citrus. Thinking orange peel without the bitterness. There is a mild creaminess to the tea. The tea smells roasty and malty. I am getting a bit of roast in the flabour but not so much malt. Very nice black tea.

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


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drank Toffee by Harrods
863 tasting notes


This. Is. Delicious.

It is surprising because it is just a generic tea bag. But th flavour is quite good.

There is thick burnt toffee flavour. It is creamy. Only slightly sweet, it isnot overly cloying which is nice. The black base underneath the toffee flavour is bold but not astringent or bitter at all. It lets the toffee shine through. This one tastes very nice, quite a pleasant surprise.

On a side note, this one, to me, smells like roasted carrots. But in case you are wondering, it does not taste like roasted carrots. Not sure how I would feels about roasted toffee carrots…

Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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I received a free sample of this from a trade show a while ago.

First I was a bit disappointed, it was in a nice pyramid sachet. But there was only about 1/2 teaspoon of tea in it. Not a very large sample and not enough for a full cup. My opinion, anyway.

This tea screams hibiscus. I was anticipating that based on the fact it was a “fruit blend” and on the large amount of hibiscus and rose hip in the dry blend. So it is hibiscus tart, there are hints of citrus. Nothing I would describe as orange or pineapple. I can understand the whole point of the use of “cooler” in the name. I bet this one would be not too bad as an iced tea. Brew up and iced, then quite a bit of sugar added, would taste like a sweet and bitter juice drink. Oh well, I definitely didn’t have enough sample for that.

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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drank Queen Anne by Fortnum & Mason
863 tasting notes

From the GCTTB3.

This one came in bag form. I was anticipating it to be either bitter or astringent.

But it wasn’t. It was actually quite smooth. The black base is very bold and strong, with only a slight but of astringency. There is a creamy quality to the tea, which was nice as I was anticipating having to add some milk.

Better than I expected for a tea bag.

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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From Sil via the GCTTB3.

This dry tea smells very fresh and clean. I am getting very light hints of malty cocoa and maybe vanilla. Slightly sweet. The leaves are quite large and long, making it hard to scoop out of the bag with my tea spoon. So I instead just poured enough out that seemed to be a good amount to brew for one cup.

The brewed tea is very smooth. The liquor is thick. Definitely creamy but no cloying. There is a very light citrus flavour. The slight bitterness of the citrus is in contrast with the creamy flavour but they somehow work together. I am not getting any cocoa or vanilla flavours that I got in the smell. The black tea base is smooth with no bitterness or astringency. There is a slight roastiness to the tea.

This is a very good tea. Thanks Sil. I am curious as to why it is called Georgia Old Lady though…

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

Hi Lala, the tea is produced by an old lady from Georgia who makes all the tea by hand, hence the name ‘old lady’.


nice! glad you enjoyed it :) always happy to share teas!


Sounds lovely!

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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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