552 Tasting Notes


3tsp for 500mL water @90C, steeped 10 minutes.

I am not having the greatest tea day. Steepster keeps seeing me these tempting e-mails to join the Steepster Select program, which, of course, only ships to customers in the US. I am not in the US. My profile lists my location as, that’s right, in Canada … not in the US. I have just begged Steepster not to end me any more notes about the Select programs until they can ship to Canada. Meantime, I tried to sign on the Steepster international customer waiting list … and that’s not working.

Earlier today. one of my crutches fell over, knocking a mostly full travel mug of Christmas Morning tea onto my keyboard, my leg, and the floor.

Before the crutch knocked over the tea, I was really enjoying what I’d steeped. The cooler water let the jasmine and oolong in the blend mature and prevented any bitterness. The long steep coaxed out a lovely heavy body from the Assam and Keemun. I hadn’t planned to steep it that long; it just happened — a delightful accident. I must go make some more to soothe the irritation of repeated ‘No Select for you!’

Flavors: Baked Bread, Cocoa, Flowers, Malt

Michelle Butler Hallett

On an up note: Verdant just sent me an e-mail saying my order has shipped. I also have tea on the way from Damn Fine. Wooo!

Michelle Butler Hallett

And, I should add, Steepster is looking into why users who are outside the US keep getting the Select offers.


Aww, that sucks that you spilled your first cup. I hope the next one turns out just as good.

Michelle Butler Hallett

(Grins) Thank you — it was.

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1.5 tsp fo 300mL water at 85C, steeped four minutes, Western style.


Clean, sweet, perfect. Finest jasmine tea I’ve ever tasted. I find jasmine teas a bit intoxicating. Some jasmines hit like a drug; this one is gentler, though seductive, and potent.

Balance, and beauty. Special.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @90C, steeped, oh, 10 minutes.

I forgot it.

And I figured it would be all bitter and soapy.

Yeah, guess which tieguanyin forgives a long steep with floral, creamy beauty and a slight sharpness in the finish?


Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Butter, Cedar, Cream, Flowers, Honey, Mineral, Orchids

1 tsp 10 OZ / 300 ML

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One of my favourite teas. This batch at DavidsTea is a little harsh, just a little grassy for this sort of oolong, but nothing else will do when you want this stuff. Cream and butter and mineral notes. I rinsed the leaves before a first short steep. A delight.

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 300 ML

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @100C, steeped 6 minus, drunk bare.

Bright and sunny and just what I need in these thousand days of winter in Newfoundland. I noticed the ingredients now list sulphites, on the dried fruit, I presume. Yuck. I’m also concerned about just what the “natural flavouring” is, which smells and tastes most convincingly of oranges, without the acid. The mate packs a lovely caffeine lift.

Boiling 6 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 300 ML

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2 bags for 500mL water @100C, steeped 4 minutes, drunk bare.

I scored a box of this at the office this morning, and I’m quite pleased. Numi Tea is very hard to find in my city; one coffee shop stocks it, but not this one.

A decent Yunnan. Honey and malt notes but no astringency. Livelier than the Wild Black Yunnan from DavidsTea. Yum.

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1 bag for 250 to 300mL water @100C, steeped 4 minutes, drunk bare.

Yes, the loose version is better. Loose almost always is. But I had a bag of this at a restaurant not long ago, when I was expecting stale Tetley from a left-open box on a plate next to a little tin pot of tepid water. Instead, I got a bag of this, steeping merrily in proper boiling water: so fragrant … I’d forgotten how good this one is, especially for a bagged tea you can get at the supermarket. There’s Keemun in this blend, which makes it special … not a whole lot of Keemun, but enough to make me go —Hey. this is good.

I always wish the tea bag held a slightly larger amount — loose leaf is the answer, of course — but the price and convenience (at my local supermarket) is hard to beat. A solid black tea, unusual for the Keemun: a little bit special. If you like black tea and you’re unable to afford fancier ones for the moment, this can make a great stopgap. Who knows, you might even like it for its own sake.


Stash is hard to beat for convenience. Maybe 2 bags, shorter steep?

Michelle Butler Hallett

Sounds good. I’ll try that.

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1 bag for 250mL water @100C, steeped 4 minutes, drunk bare.

I spotted Red Rocket in the supermarket last night and yes, fell in love with the red tin … and the cheeky note on the bottom of the tin asking “Why are you reading the bottom when all the good information is one the sides?”

The tea itself is a “small leaf” Ceylon. I took that to mean tea dust, but it’s way better than that. The liquor is dark copper, with typical floral Ceylon notes in the scent. Soft mouthfeel, which is lovely, medium body, mild pucker. I found the tea very soothing, and it seems to pack a caffeine punch.

Red Rocket is a member of the ethical tea partnership, and they also work with Nyota, a children’s organzation, in Kenya.

For supermarket tea: excellent. This is a dependable, refreshing, classic Ceylon.

(The bags don’t have tags, staples, and strings, but come in sets of two, sealed in a foil pouch within a really cute red tin.)

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1 “single steep” sachet for 300mL water @100C, steeped four minutes, drunk bare.

This is re-packaged as “Reflect Vanilla Black Tea” in a collection of single steep packets sold in Chapters/Indigo stores in Canada. I bought such a box this evening. So far, the Lemongrass Ginger is great; the “Revitalize Cherry Black Tea” is the equivalent of drinking melted cough drops; now it’s Reflect’s turn.

I can really smell the coconut, like in DavidsTea Buttered Rum. My study smells lovely, in fact; vanilla and coconut go well together. In a candle, say, or soap. They’re not going well with what tastes like low grade astringent Ceylon. The entire tea is soapy: taste and mouthfeel, probably from the coconut. Like the Revitalize Cherry before it, this is, for me, undrinkable.


oh no, sounds not good at all…except for your study smelling nice I guess!

Michelle Butler Hallett

Even that didn’t last.

A disappointing tea all round.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @ 90C, steeped 5 minutes, drunk bare.

Oops — steeped a little too long there. Getting lots of vegetal in this cup, and that lovely creme brûlée thing. Floral, too — orchids, I guess. Lots of down in the liquor, giving that velvety mouth-feel. Delicious. I’ve not had this for a long time, and I got about 138 grams for a Christmas present. Mmmmm.

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Writer and tea fiend. Author of DELUDED YOUR SAILORS, SKY WAVES, DOUBLE-BLIND, and THE SHADOW SIDE OF GRACE. New novel next spring called THIS MARLOWE.

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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