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225 Tasting Notes

This will be a long review and only partly about tea. Skip along.

I went into the city today, got a bit of spring fever even though it’s still cold and nowhere near spring. But it’s no longer -20C and it was SUNNY for the first time in many days. Browsed bookstores, people watched, and then stopped at one of Toronto’s best ramen places. Had this: http://instagram.com/p/lTEyr3nqbi/

It was great while I was eating it and then quite shortly after i finished I got the “oh god, why did I do that?” feeling. You can perhaps understand why on the drive home I thought to myself “pu’erh”. I’m gonna have pu’erh. Which to have? I needed this and I needed to make sure I was going to drink it so I took it easy on myself.

Previously, my sheng have been white. So I was surprised this is dark in dry form. Shows you what I know, right? :)

Although the notes here advise on a 15s steep, to me that’s water. So I disregarded. Especially since the advice for steep time fails to mention water or amount of tea. I did 1 minute, I broke off a thin piece maybe the size of a thumb. My thumb, not shrek’s. 8 oz glass gaiwan came out to play.

The dry leaf smelled faintly smokey to me and then once I steeped it and took the lid off I could smell smokiness on the wet leaf. If I smell the wet leaf now, cold and having been steeped twice, the smoke is gone.

The second steep was also one minute, it gets a little stronger (shit, I forgot to rinse when I started) and it is getting a little stronger and a little, just A LITTLE astringent. Also getting a faint stone fruit in the after taste of the later sips, as the cup has cooled. you know, I’m talking out of my arse here, but I definitely get peach aftertaste.

Getting ready to steep for the third time. I am loving this one. Really. Really! Thank you :)

8 OZ / 236 ML

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This is a sample from TheTeaFairy who writes this is “a really good straight black”. I had my doubts because up until now there was no such thing as a good straight black. But since tonight I’m not interested in the chocolate teas I’ve been guzzling like mad, polishing them off slowly, I thought I’d bite the bullet and have this. Steeled myself for great unpleasantness and followed the steeping instructions: 1.5 tsp, 2 minutes, 95C. Well, it was more like 203F but hey, close enough.

Cautious sniff, cautious sip… wait a minute, this … this is not bad. Does not need sugar or cream, in fact I find it vegetal enough at the back that I think it would taste weird with sugar added. I don’t know about malty, like someone said, to me this is more like a dark roasted oolong.

Thank you, TheTeaFairy I like this!


Yay!!! “Not bad” is a step forward in your straight tea exploration. :))


Yes, yes, Dex, i agree! I don’t have much to compare it to. I tried a straight Kusmi tea before and it scared me off.


If you like this one, then you might want to take a look at other Yunnan blacks. Yunnan is my favorite – there are lots of good ones out there. Baby steps though – adjust to the possibility of not being scare off of all blacks. (I think you should like Laoshan Black – it is so sweet and chocolatey… but I’ve been wrong before). :))


yay glad you tried a black you liked!!


I am fantasizing about a verdant order in the near future. It’s been months since my last tea order. I will definitely add the Laoshan black


if you want me to just send you some to try, send me a note :) I’m packing up things this weekend so it’d be no trouble to send you a small sample :)


Super happy you enjoyed this one…same as Sil, let me know if you want to try Laoshan Black before you buy it, I still have some in stock :-)
I agree with Dexter, Yunnans are great!

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Sipdown! If I didn’t have so much bloody tea I might restock this. As it is, I have too much similar teas in my cupboard. I was going through a chocolate and caramel phase and overstocked those to the point that 80% of my cupboard is black teas with caramel, chocolate or coffee flavours.

It is tasty, I do get caramel (maybe not so much salt and chocolate) and I am a little sad to see it go but I have so much more tea to go through… If I keep restocking favourites I will never drink the not-so-favourite ones. My goal is to almost empty out the cupboard and then restock with favourites. No more random buying. I don’t have the patience and motivation to do swaps and then the tea I don’t like either ends up in the garbage or I drink it because I have to. Neither of those is how I want my tea experiences to be.

So by now I have enough favourites that I can just buy those. For now anyway.

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I have never been more aware of the “save to wishlist” button than tonight. Mostly cause I’m thinking, who would wish for this?? Not because it’s awful, not at all, but it’s a weird little concoction.

I received a sample of this from the generous Dexter3657 (thank you, thank you!) and tonight was the night to sip this down. There were 2 scoops worth of leaf in the original baggie so I made all of it. I did not read any of the notes prior but went with a 5 min steep as I do with herbals usually.

The dry leaf smelled of citrus and mint, in that order. The mint was very cool. I don’t know how to describe it. The smell was not overly strong but it was very much mint. Like lozenges. It even tasted a bit like that when brewed, like an aspartame sweetened mint lozenge. I used to drink diet things and now I despise them and am very familiar with the lingering, throat-coating flavour of aspartame, sucralose and the like.

I took two sips of this hot and recognized that it might be like a mojito if I had it iced. So I did. I think it was the only way to drink this. I love mint but not mixed in with licorice. This is my first licorice tea and it will probably be my last. I would love to try mint and lemongrass together, minus the licorice. It would make a pretty tasty iced drink for the summer that, let’s face it, will never come. :)

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So maybe I was a little too generous with my rating originally. I always seem to do that. Get so excited with new teas and all they have to do is not throw a curveball. Deliver what your name promises to and you’re golden. (Unlike some teas… Earth Teaz loves to mess with you, the tea drinker, like for example they say almond something or other you get strawberries. Wha?!)

I finished off the small 1 oz sample I bought on Black Friday. It seemed everyone was drinking this and raving and I had coveted for so long…

Speaking of coveting, it is easier to not crave new teas by avoiding this place here. I haven’t purposely avoided, I’ve just been consumed by other things, but the fact remains. If I don’t read about some fabulous tea someone else is drinking it is easier to be satisfied with my own cupboard. Keeping up with the Joneses is hard work, yo :)

I will not repurchase this tea because it’s all cake and no pineapple and I got tons of cake tea everywhere.


Hehe, I usually rate high and drop down too, though sometimes it goes the other way.

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drank Butterscotch Potion by Tealux
225 tasting notes

“A little weird tasting, but not undrinkable” says TheTeaFairy in her note stuck to the ziploc holding this 2-cup sample. Naturally, I have avoided it and tried all the samples she indicated were her faves. So tonight, after missing again, I thought to myself: self, I bet you will like the ones she hates. So I grabbed the so called weird tasting tea!

Don’t you know it, it’s not weird tasting to me. And it smells like butterscotch indeed. I did add honey because it wasn’t sweet enough for me. It smells faintly of chamomile but luckily it doesn’t taste like chamomile. It almost tastes milky too, I wonder which ingredient does that.

I wouldn’t call this an amazing cup — my goodness, I’d have to read my notes and find which teas I thought were amazing because lately I have found them all to be missing something. Maybe it’s me. I know it is. I haven’t been in the mood.

Great light amber colour on this, not astringent at 3 minutes with 190F water. It’s not a bad tea. I wouldn’t rush out and buy it or anything, despite the alluring name. Thanks again to the generous TheTeaFairy who sent me so much tea I’m still working my way through it.


Lol, that’s funny…but we can say we have at least Phoenix Pearl in common :-)


I think we have a lot more in common.

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Another sample from TheTeaFairy — thanks for sharing this!

I’ve been wondering about this one, reading all the reviews over the last couple of weeks or so it seems people were drinking and commenting.

I’m getting a slightly astringent tea, slightly bitter, that tastes of cloves. Sadly I’m not getting pumpkin or milkshake. Maybe if you added a lot of sugar and milk, but then wouldn’t they all be “milkshake?” :)

Thank you, TheTeaFairy, it is becoming obvious we love different teas. You like them strong, eh?


Haha! Yes I do!! But don’t give up just yet, I also have a soft side :-)

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drank Phoenix Pearl by Zen Tea
225 tasting notes

This is the first grown-up straight black I took to bed. I mean that in a non-dirty way: I made a small pot and brought it upstairs to the bedroom. I rarely do that with this type of tea because I never love it enough to commit, it’s usually one cup that I know I’ll hate but have it anyway. Not tonight. I took a chance with this one, made a pot so I have enough to satisfy me for a while and I don’t have to break the spell and go back downstairs.

I teased it with just a little breath of honey although I have to say there’s not much change in flavour even with the addition. Probably because I didn’t add enough but I didn’t want too much in there.

I am surprised at how nice this is. How smooth. I mean, black teas to me are strong, astringent and I can only drink them if I add quite a bit of stuff to them. straight black teas usually scare me.

This came from TheTeaFairy and after spending the day oh so pleasantly I decided to stretch the feeling and make this one. For a second, as I smelled the brewed aroma I thought it smelled just a bit like a puerh. Not fishy but aromatic and earthy. This is no puerh of course but to me the aftertaste is a bit… bready. Like puerh can sometimes be.

TheTeaFairy loves this one according to her note which also says this is “so cute to look at”. I needed something cute to look at, remember I’ve been all alone for a week now. It is indeed pretty to look at, all curls. It also has a pleasant, inviting colour, not the way some black teas brew dark and menacing.

It’s amber, smooth and tastes like an unsweetened roll of sorts. I’m pretty impressed. Thanks, TheTeaFairy — i’m sure this is a tea you thought I’d hate and are just sending it to take me out of the comfort zone. Surprise!


So happy you enjoyed your day and this tea!!

Terri HarpLady

I love taking tea to bed, especially first thing in the morning :)

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drank Banana by tweed and hickory
225 tasting notes

0 for 2 on tweed and hickory, you guys. I guess I’m not grown up enough to appreciate bitter. Thank goodness I didn’t do 4-5 minutes like the tea fairy suggested. I stopped at 3. Are all Tweed & Hickory teas Sri Lankan? Both the ones I got from TheTeaFairy were. But I’m not one to generalize.

I wish I could love this. Half the people at our “food factory” are Sri Lankan (the other half are from Hong Kong), they probably would not be proud of me right now.

Thank you to TheTeaFairy for this sample. I have a feeling you thought I would be way better at tea than I actually am. I have all these grown up teas… Sorry. No go on this one! But thanks, now I am no longer curious about Tweed & Hickory. I think for a while I’ll stick to what I know: the beaten path :)

I must look up the definition of delicate one day. Maybe it means barely there. Or maybe “now you see me, now you don’t”. I’m referring to banana in here. it’s too bitter for me to dig around and find it.

I was trying to avoid going out to get a burger and fries. This is not helping.

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Hahaha! Hurry, go for the burger for god’s sake!!! It’s so funny, I though it was a mild tea!!! It’s not you, probably my fault with my habit of over steeping everything!

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drank RASPBERRY & LITCHI by Tealux
225 tasting notes

For the next little bit it’s going to look like I am cheap and never buy tea, only drink samples others have sent. It just so happens that both dexter3657 and TheTeaFairy have sent me tea recently and I am in a ziploc be gone mood.

My partner is away on business for the week so I spread all the ziplock bags on the kitchen table (I eat my meals at work now that nobody’s home) and I have a week to motor through.

TheTeaFairy sent me a 2-cup sample of this. Thank you! I took it with me to work because it’s black and it’s a fruit tea which I can handle with just a bit of sugar. I enjoyed it this morning just fine, gave myself a pat on the back for choosing it. Made one cup and brought the pack back home. I am now having the second cup and as I sit here sipping it after it cooled down a little it strikes me that this tea reminds me very much of Harney’s Fruits D’Alsace. Of course probably none of you thought this and I am not going to make you all drink them side by side, you’ll just have to take my word for it. Or maybe you won’t since the last time I sent out a comparison plea (between Bai hao yin zhen and silver buds pu’erh) I was not all that right.

This tea? Fruity. Black. Honey. Not sure about litchi. Good but not my thing. As for recommending it, I can’t say yes but I definitely can’t say no.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

I like having the house to myself sometimes :)

Enjoy the samples :D


haha awesome :)

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Im a fairly recent follower of the loose leaf tea drinking cult. March 2013 to be exact. 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, I’m a chef and a wine lover with a trained palate but find that I lack the linguistic prowess for tea tasting notes. Now there’s something to learn!

I prefer flavoured teas. It’s probably the newbie in me. I just don’t get cravings for a straight black tea. If I end up having one, I drop in a slice of lemon and artificial rum flavouring (ugh, what moron admits to this?). A black tea fixed this way reminds me of skating at an outdoor rink as a young one, with a thermos full of tea made just as I described..

Im learning so I drink them all. everything! 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.


Toronto Canada

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