277 Tasting Notes


Sipdown! Not that I’m counting them or anything, my cupboard is nothing like most of yours’ , but I try to keep the ziploc baggies to a minimum. I gifted a little of this to my dear friend dexter3657 and some of it found its way back to me for a try. Thank you, Dexter3657 .

I didn’t care much for it the first time, but I had enough left for a 10 oz cup so I took it to the cottage in case the mood struck. And that it did, what with pumpkin pie for dessert and all… I made a maple whipped cream to top the pie with and I added some to my tea to make it more enjoyable. Without it, I found it a little brisk and a little bitter when steeped with near boiling water for just over 2 minutes. I usually do most black teas 3 minutes but I was timid with this given the previous experience.

Brews a nice caramel color, you’d think it’s earl grey not cardamom black. There is definitely cardamom flavour, large pods can be found in the leaves, but as I said, I found it a little too brisk for my liking. Glad to have tried it, the name makes you want it. And it did go with the pumpkin pie.

Happy Thanksgiving, fellow Canucks!

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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drank Pumpkin Spice by The Tea Haus
277 tasting notes

Yes, don’t like it this time around either. I added brown sugar and creamer. It’s alright, tastes a little like “glitter and gold” which I totally hate, but this is not as heavy on the ginger and clove. I kinda feel like I wasted my drop of cream and pinch of sugar on this.

I think I also need to stop equating "pumpkin spice " with “pumpkin”. But you know, when Starbucks gives me the pumpkin spice latte, that actually tastes like pumpkin, one could see how I would have an expectation of other things called “pumpkin spice”. Mais non.

I think booze clouded my judgement originally and rated it higher. I’d drink a 70 but I can’t say I’d drink this. Bump.

adagio breeze

I’m noticing quite a few things called “pumpkin spice” that have no pumpkin component. It’s really annoying – can’t they call it something like “autumn spice” so they don’t get our hopes up for something pumpkiny?

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drank Red Velvet Cake by DAVIDsTEA
277 tasting notes

I’m running terribly low on Florence and SoHo Blend but I can’t place another tea order for a while. So tonight I remembered I had this one, a pretty close second to those teas if done right. And the beauty of this tea is that it is so easy to replenish just by walking into the store. No shipping, no nothing.

It is a good chocolate tea. Not astringent but a little on the weak side if you get stingy with your leaves. I go slightly over the recommended about of 1.5 tsp / 8 oz . I do sweeten it but only because it is my dessert and I am going for sweet and decadent. It is plenty sweet on its own, as everyone who had it has already noted. Maybe one day DAVID’s will make a good chocolate tea but without all the sprinkles… This looks really gross if you let it cool in your cup or pot. I mean, a good ring of sludge sets in. Other than that, no complaints.

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Maybe one day Dexter3657 will come and make me pu’erh and I will at once understand everyone’s awe at this and I, too, will marvel at its deliciousness. Until then, dexter3657 should stop sending me pu’erh samples for they are wasted. Wasted.

Dry leaves smelled fishy to this novice. I rinsed longer than I should have probably, just to get rid of as much as I could. Then I steeped, multiple times. Now I have to caution you that in this case tea tasting does not equal tea drinking. First steep, wood. Second steep some sort of sea water. Third steep much of the same. And on it went.

Where is this cream, chocolate and berries?!? Where’s the caramel?

The moral is this. I shall no longer try to drink pu’erh until I have detailed steeping instructions, and maybe someone who knows what they’re doing next to me. Cause, like with most recipes, just reading the instructions doesn’t always mean everyone can have yummy results.

Dexter3657 thank you so much for showing me I am not ready for pu’erh, much less for Mandala.


Haha at least you tried!


Sorry to hear that you did not enjoy your experience with this tea. But we at Mandala have way more teas than just ripe style pu’er. I am wondering if you have had the opportunity to try raw style pu’er tea. It is an entirely different tea. Many raw style pu’er purists do not care for ripe at all. Raw teas are alot of fun and they are the type of pu’er that really ages (if stored well) – 10, 20 years is far from unheard of. A completely different experience with aroma and taste (and energy, too) than that of black style pu’ers.

I’d recommend giving raw tea a shot. My biz partner, Jamie, is all about the raw style pu’ers.

I’m also curious about what you are using for water when you make your tea. This can have a HUGE impact on aroma, flavor and overall experience.

Thanks for the write-up!!



Garret, thank you for your comment and advice. I have only tried your silver buds raw pu’erh, again courtesy of the generous Dexter3657. You’re right, that one did not taste so frightening as the ripe one, but I would in the future like to get to a place where I am able to enjoy both. Unless the taste for one means you don’t care for the other. I don’t know.

As for water, since you asked, i know you will cringe but I use tap water. The water where I live, north of toronto, is quite good when compared to other regions. I use spring water at the cottage and while I can taste the difference, I have to say it is not always for the better. For the financial bracket I’m in and the amount of tea I drink, purchasing bottled spring or filtered water is crazy talk.


How in the world did I miss this tasting note? I’m really happy that you tried it, you don’t have to love it – but this is AMAZING Pu’erh – IMHO If you don’t like this, you just aren’t going to like ripe pu’erh. Yes the raw is different – and yes you can love both. Wow fishy – me thinks that if you find this fishy you should just be happy with the experience – and don’t go playing with the cheap icky stuff (now that’s fishy).
I don’t think you can do this one wrong, that’s why I sent it to you. I’ve steeped this at temps and lengths that would probably make lots of people cringe – it always works for me. Shrug, dunno I love you don’t have to.

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Thanks to Sil for providing this sample and to those who added this info on steepster so I can add a note. I know TerriHarpLady updated it last so thanks!

The only recognizable (read:English) words on the pack was the address and the name of the company. I even showed it to the people at work who couldn’t tell me a whole lot more, and they majority of them are Chinese. Granted, they are from Hong Kong, not mainland, but still… I thought someone there can decipher.

And omg, is this ever floral. I see the tasters before me described it as mild. It is not mild to me. It is overwhelmingly floral. And I’m pretty sure I burned the leaves because it is bitter. My name should be tea klutz but it was taken. Given no steeping instructions I did my best, 3 minutes in what I thought was 180ish water. I should have treated it more like a green, lowered the temp even more to err on the side of caution. Sil, I think I badly butchered this.

But what I can tell you is that I enjoyed having this exotic morsel, floral bitterness and all. If it was available, I probably wouldn’t buy it though. No longer a fan of floral stuff, I think I od’ed on jasmine a while back.


Haha I hated this too. I dislike florals but t was part of a pack and random teas from new places are always fun :)


Lol. I was trying to cleverly veil the word “hate”. It is not nice to say bad things about samples people send you, is it? Although I remember a certain someone, let’s not name names, who said recently “thanks. This was nasty!” :p


yep! just ‘cause you don’t like the tea doesn’t mean it’s a reflection on the person who sent it! It just means that it’s not the tea for you…but that’ ok ’cause there are lots out there!

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Six days have passed since my first visit to Tao Tea Leaf and I have thought of my visit each of the six days. If something was so memorable that you remembered it so fondly for so long you would likely try to recreate the moment, and today I attempted to do just that. I needed a gaiwan and rather than order something online I decided Tao Tea Leaf was just the place. I have my very first gaiwan now, I feel so grown up about tea! :)

Also, I blew through my small amount of Shui Xian Lao Cong so I had to buy more, along with this here tea. I added the info off Tao’s website, to the letter.

This tea smells floral, almost like jasmine, and the wet leaves smell of jasmine too. The liquor is a pale pale yellow, and tastes only slightly floral. I was a little worried at first, needlessly I now know. It is so creamy too.

The question I have is, I’m getting a slight bitterness as it sits and cools. Is it supposed to? Is it something I did? I guess these are somewhat rhetorical questions but if someone knows an answer, I’d love to know!

As for the visit, I brought my partner with me, we ordered a pot of tea also and sat there, in the tranquility of the shop and enjoyed it together. Met Tao himself who was so helpful, so hospitable. Too bad this store is so far away from where I live, and not “on the way” to anything I frequent. But then maybe my wallet likes that it is so.

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

So happy that you found an oolong that you love. So jealous that you get to go to Tao Tea Leaf…..


One day dex, one day…


Tao really does have a lovely store and he is so genuine and passionate about the tea he sells.

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I was left to my own devices today regarding entertaining myself. So I went downtown and met a wonderful, knowledgeable woman who shared some tea with me. She brewed this in a gaiwan and I couldn’t believe how good this tea was. Amazing oolong.

Beautiful yellow liquor, so aromatic. I could have sat there the entire afternoon just drinking the tea. I do have to say I have never seen oolong leaves so big. Huge. Good luck measuring with a teaspoon. I can’t wait to have more. Tao Tea Leaf is the bomb. Good thing Dexter3657 talked about it so much or I would have never tried it. I guess I’m falling off the wagon. Where’s that hiatus thread?

If you’re not drinking Tao Tea Leaf you’re missing out. I was.


Sounds like agree afternoon!


Sounds amazing!


Agree = a great


I have never had someone make tea for me (mom doesn’t count). I found the offer surprising, since I had no such expectation, and the experience of sitting there sharing pretty warming. We managed to have a nice chat even though we had been strangers until moments before. It was pretty awesome.

Terri HarpLady

Sounds awesome!!

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drank Candy Cane by Della Terra Teas
277 tasting notes

Today, this is perfect. A sample from Dexter3657 (thank you!) from a while back that got misplaced somehow. I found it a while back and put it in my bag to take to work making this the most “travelled” tea for sure because I forgot it was in my bag. Found it! Perfect timing too, it is exactly what I was in the mood for.

2 “perfect” spoons, 16 oz boiling water for 3 minutes. Added sugar and Belgian chocolate creamer — yes, it exists — and it is the perfect tea to have by the fireplace. It is cold in Toronto now and while I don’t want to turn the heat on yet (I have rules about when the furnace gets turned on for the first time) I didn’t see anything wrong with a little fire.

Fall has arrived. Although we’re few good weeks away from Christmas, this chocolate minty tea you can enjoy now since it seems the pumpkin teas are failing us for the most part.


this sounds goooood!

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drank Mulberry Magic by DAVIDsTEA
277 tasting notes

I don’t know what I did to this today vs. the last time I made it. Aside from using a different sweetener (maple syrup this time, turbinado sugar last) can’t say I’ve done a whole lot differently but this is so good this time! I am getting a ton of nut flavour and aroma, it tastes like a gooey sweet cookie. I bumped up the ratings.

Maybe it’s a mood thing. The first time I made this, I only made it because I’s just bought it and wanted to try it. This time around I actually wanted it. Also, am drinking it out of a dark brown porcelain cup as opposed to a clear glass one so I can’t see the unappealing colour of it. I think that helps too.

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drank Caramel Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
277 tasting notes

My very first Red Leaf Tea order arrived yesterday, in it about four of the basic grade flavoured matchas. They’re good but I find that I enjoy them a lot more if I make them in a smoothie. It has the texture I’m looking for I guess, the texture resembling the Starbucks green tea frap I like so much, or one of the Booster Juice matcha smoothies. Otherwise it still tastes milky — and I hate the taste of milk.

It needs a little sweetening, I didn’t add sugar the first time and then I was trying to dissolve honey in this icy cold brew. You all know how well that goes. I also find that just straight up with milk only it is a little chalky. Once you allow it to settle it gets better, the chalkiness goes to the bottom of the glass. I can’t help but wonder of the higher grade is smoother — I hope so — but since this is my introduction to matcha it felt silly to spring the big bucks for the “better” stuff before knowing what matcha is all about.

Dissolved 1 perfect spoon in a few tablespoons of hot water. Added sugar and dissolved that. Shook the whole thing around 10 oz cold milk. Smells a little chemically but taste is ok, some faint bitterness at the very very back. Overall, I’d say matcha is here to stay.

Oh and… It is not as caramel-y as I expected. I think I like English toffee better but that’s a review all in itself.

Iced 0 min, 30 sec

I love using them for smoothies too, especially with strawberries.

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I started drinking loose leaf tea in the spring of 2013 (why do we feel compelled to mark the date of tea drinking somewhat like addicts counting their sobriety days?)

Never been much into tea before. Growing up in Romania, tea was something mom made for you when you were sick. As an adult, my hot beverage of choice has been coffee, both flavoured and regular. I’ve recently stumbled upon Teavana and DAVIDs TEA and quickly got addicted to the latter. Then came steepster and all else followed.

Formerly a mathematician and insurance adjuster, I gave up the corporate world and am now a professional chef. I drink wine and sometimes cheat on it with tea.

I lean heavily towards flavoured black teas. I’ve started to crave the occasional straight oolong and green but so far unflavoured black teas leave me unimpressed.

I’m learning so I drink them all. Am even introducing myself to pu’erh. So far I can do fine with the sheng cause frankly, they don’t taste like pu’erh to me. The shou is another story.

Note*: The virtual cupboard does NOT contain any of the samples I hold since most of them are one-cup quantity.

Note**: My partner, our home improvements, gadgets, mortgage, travel, wine and food have budget priority over tea.


Toronto-ish, Canada

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