578 Tasting Notes


Bright and feisty. Little tiny leaf steeps quickly and gets bitter fast. This will wake you up.

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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Confused. I could neither taste nor smell the lavender, though I did see it. A very minty and woody rooibos. Not for me,

Boiling 6 min, 30 sec

Ever try Lavender Zen? It is loaded with lavender.

Michelle Butler Hallett

No, I haven’t. Must add that to my next order. Thnaks.


I agree completely; I got this because of the lavender as a gift from someone who knows I love lavender – and I can’t really taste it or smell it at ALL. T_T;

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Drunk bare — no milk or sweetener.

I did not think this tea would live up to the hype. I adore a good smokey tea, but too often, the smoke dominates.

So, I was wrong.

Caravan gives off a very strong smoke scent, but the steeped tea is almost sweet. The smoke is an accent, not a bully. There’s a wine-iness too, as you find in some Keemuns. (Keemun in blend?) Also something savoury, almost salty, that excites the sides of the tongue. Finishes clean, though smoke lingers in the mouth.

Damn fine.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Michelle Butler Hallett

Another one to binge on, not hoard. Drat these limited editions!

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Drunk without milk or sugar — ‘bare tea,’ in Newfoundland English.

My heart deeply wounded by the absence — rather, by my never getting to try — Thomas Sampson (though he did send me a lovely note), I thought to ring up the Captain, who, surely, cannot be as harsh and hard as he’d like everyone to think. After all, he seeks a mermaid.

I’m sorry. I just love the writing round the teas from A&D.

Received my order in the storm of a very bad day. Couldn’t even properly welcome the Captain, just showed him his berth.

This morning: dry long leaves with plenty of golden tips, smelling raisin-y, as others have noted. Sweet. Brewed for 6 minutes by mistake, 1 TB for 500mL of boiling water.



First those high sweet notes of a really good Assam. Then strength and heft. A heavier mouthfeel to this one, but it’s lovely - creamy, silky. A bit malty on the sides of the tongue, a slight bit of astringency in the aftertaste- but I did overbrew by two minutes; A&D recommend a four-minute steep. But these are characteristics of Assam that I love and desire. A clean finish, but you know you’re drinking TEA. ‘Proper tea’, as my English war-bride grandmother would call it, that will get you through a storm and help you recover afterwards. The sort of tea George Orwell meant when discussing the virtues of Indian tea: ‘First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase ’a nice cup of tea’ invariably means Indian tea.’ (_Evening Standard, 12 Jan 1946).

Not at all a harsh Assam. But a very strong one. Ideal.

And Captain Assam’s High Seas Elixir is, of course, a limited edition. I don’t know whether to hoard or binge. Probably binge. Then it won’t go stale.

(For the record, I do not despise China black tea; in fact, sometimes nothing else will do. But I do agree with Orwell that it doesn’t pack the same punch as India black yea.)

Boiling 6 min, 0 sec
Michelle Butler Hallett

Not sure how I got the overstike in there, sorry.

Michelle Butler Hallett

WoooHOOOO! The Captain is mondo caffeineated! Or whatever the magic stimulating substance in tea is. Captain Assam’s got it by the shipload. My eyes are wide open and my writin muscles are twitchin!

As the brew cooled off, it remained sweet and malty. No bitterness.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Oh, what is that goregous tasting note, almost like the winey-ness in Keemun?

Michelle Butler Hallett

Second batch (bare) at 6 minutes again … yeah, I don’t think I want to go back to four. Deliciously heavy mouthfeel. Is this what some Steepsterites mean by ‘chewy’?

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Received a free sample of David’s Orange Pekoe in a recent order.

Dry leaves: zero scent, but they look intriguing. Unassuming, perhaps, like that quiet guy who excels in art class in high school and hides behind his hair.

4-minute steep, boiling water, 1TB for 500mL, no milk or sweetener … classic ‘normal tea’ taste. Some depth and sweetness from the Assam, brightness from the Ceylon … very good. No bitterness. Yet still finishes a bit hollow, like it lacks something … more punch from the Assam, maybe? I find myself bracing for a malty pucker, some astringency on the back of the tongue, but it doesn’t arrive.

I’d confidently serve this at a big dinner or a tea party as ‘normal’ tea offering, but I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to get it for myself, not when David’sTea alone offers so much more. And my old fave, the fair trade English Breakfast from my local teashop, Britannia, leaves this eating yesterday’s dust. Perhaps I’m being a snob.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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drank Joy by Tazo
578 tasting notes

Sipping a big 500mL mug of this at Starbucks this morning … last time I tried Joy, Tazo was stiull using those little teabags with fannings. Now Tazo is all about full-leaf, and while I deplore the petroleum-based bags, the full leaf, of course, makes a huge difference.

How to steep a blend of black (including delicate Darjeelings), green and oolong? The hot water at Starbucks is just below boiling, as far as I can tell, and a 4-minute steep of one bag (they’re big bags, packed) in a 500mL cup yielded to me a toasty, slightly nutty and green, sweet and incredibly floral oolong bouquet. I would not steep this blend any longer than 4 minutes, and I would definitely use water below boiling. Don’t worry, the black teas will make themselves known. Might be soe Yunnan in here, too; definitely getting a peppery bite. I really like the 2010 Joy blend and would happily give it as a gift.

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Michelle Butler Hallett

Drunk without milk or sugar.


I hunted and hunted at our armpit-of-nowhere-scaled-down-Starbucks last year hoping to find a little Joy of my own, with no luck. Maybe this year, Charlie Brown…

Michelle Butler Hallett

Hope so! My local Buck’s is stocking a gorgeous red tin of Joy for about $9.00. Not sure how many bags are in it. Just amanaged to stop myself from buying it less than 24 hours after orders arrived fro Stash and David’s.

Sigh. I may have a tea problem.

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I was surprised at the flatness of the batch of Black Needles I got. Flat taste, I mean. I got some of the pepper but only a teasing hint of musk, and then a stale-wininess. Has a sharp scent, almost of sweat. If this had been my first ever black needle Yunnan, I might have liked it better, but my local teashop and Stash Teas both supply better versions.

A decent tea, but not an excellent black needle Yunnan.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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Back to the Stash black needle Yunnan after a flirt with David’s Tea Black Needles while I longingly wait for my local teashop to get their supply of Yunnan back …

oh, sweet musky toasty peppery bliss. So clean. Winey. Very smooth.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Michelle Butler Hallett

Second infusion, 19 hours later — how’s that for a test? — needs a longer coax, say, 6-7 minutes, but oh my oh my … not quite as toasty but still exquisite.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Okay, how about this? Fresh leaves, left to steep in a covered — forgotten about for 11 minutes — still amazing? Not one bit bitter or barky. Strong, perhaps a little smokier (faint wisp) and less peppery than my idea steep, but an amazingly resilient tea. I just wish it was easier to get.

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Hoo ha! Sharp! Amazing lemon scent with hot ginger undertones. Delicious and soothing ginger heat to the mouthfeel and swallow. Have tried many lemon ginger teas before and been bored. This one uses a decent green base, not too assertive, and some smooooooth ginger and lemon. Three ingredients: organic green tea, organic ginger root, natural essential lemon oil. I bet Electric Lemon would be fabulous on a bitter cold morning or when fighting off a head cold, stomach bug or (shudder) flu.

I gave it a longish steep for a green and did not add any sweetener.

180 °F / 82 °C 4 min, 30 sec
Michelle Butler Hallett

Ooops … got this as a sample with an oder of Christmas gifts. Used 1TB to 10oz water.


I’m in the midst of a very taxing piece of work and the winter collection is going to be my Good Job reward once I’m done. Thanks for the review!

Michelle Butler Hallett

I got a sample of the Chocolate Chili Chai, too, and I a saving that for a good stopping point in the story I’m drafting. My incentive. And it’s not even a carrot.

Seriously, Heather, I think using good tea as a reward after work gets done is a brilliant idea. That could definitely help me focus. Thanks for mentioning it.

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Incredible aroma of earth and cocoa and the faintest whiff of tobacco when I ripped open the bag. Using 1 TB for a 10oz cup, in a tea-sac, steeping 7 minutes — they recommend 4 to 7 minutes “or more for a darker brew” — boiling water …

At the 5-minute mark, gives off a scent of straw — clean straw. And earth.

Brews quite dark, looking like a pu’erh, if pu’erh released green and brown instead of red and brown colours.

The organic cocoa nibs add a very “healthy” aroma.

Not grassy like some yerba mates. (Mate and guayusa are cousins, both members of the holly family.) Reminds me a bit of some barkier medicinal tisanes with chicory or dandelion root in them. A slight sharpness to the aroma makes me expect bitterness, but I don’t get any. (I’m trying this first cup unsweetened.) Shares the slight nuttiness of some of the Japanese greens. Smooth if mild cocoa aftertaste; this might come out more with stevia.

I need more time with guayusa. But I’m definitely not sorry I tried it.

Will report later on the promised steady no-crash energy guayusa is supposed to deliver.

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec
Michelle Butler Hallett

Still stoked and focused from the guayusa. Nor manic crazy or anything, but concentration seems better.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Sorry, got my measurements wrong … 1 TB and 16oz/2 cups/500mL water.

Trying it this morning with one packet of stevia, which does not see to sweeten the entire brew, just bring out the cocoa a bit more.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Wow. Quite the steady smoulder of energy. I didn’t dare drink this and yerba mate within the same few hours.

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I prefer straight teas but will try almost anything … so long as it’s not tainted with hibiscus. I loathe hibiscus.

Floral oolong and complex black teas are my favourites.


St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

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