1391 Tasting Notes


I was so sure I’d logged a note for this one. So sure. Apparently not, though!

I’ve tried this one twice now. The first time, I unthinkingly added a splash of milk. I’m not really sure why, just habit I think. The milk washed out most of this flavour, and it was just like drinking a cup of honeybush or rooibos. Okay, but nothing special.

I was more careful the second time, and there were no further milk-related incidents. In it’s natural state, this is a delicious blend. The caramel flavour comes our first, and is mild, but it’s definitely there. It’s like a thin caramelised sugar coating on an apple, which (surprise, surprise) is exactly what it’s supposed to be. The apple flavour is also fairly delicate, but it cuts through the initial sugary sweetness with a slightly sharp/sour tang. It’s a pretty perfect combination! The honeybush base is smooth, and adds an almost honeyed quality to each sip. It’s perfectly in keeping with the caramel vibe this one has going on.

I would have liked the overall taste to be a little stronger – more caramel, more apple – but it’s fine as is. It just needs a little focus to really appreciate, but that does make a change from some of the smack-me-in-the-face flavourings I’ve experienced recently.

I’ll enjoy the rest of this pouch, and I’m looking forward to comparing it with the oolong version that’s also sitting in my stash. When 52 Teas get flavouring right, they definitely get it right!

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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This one reminds me in flavour of an “old-style” root beer – slightly medicinal tasting, a little black-liquoricey, a little chicory. The rooibos is a good choice here, and I actually feel the slight woodiness contributes to the flavour. I wouldn’t say that “float” element is particularly strong, although there is a light creaminess in the background. I tried adding milk to the second half of my cup to bring that out a little more, but I think it actually drowned what there was more than anything. So, without milk is the way forward with this one for me! Of the root beer teas I’ve tried this far, I wouldn’t say this one is a favourite. I much prefer the 52 Teas version. It’s a pleasant cup, though, and I’ll definitely enjoy finishing off my sample pouch.

In other news, I’ve been on a bit of a hot chocolate jag these last few days. That’s so totally not me, I should have known something was wrong. Then last night I started getting the sniffles and a scratchy throat. Time for another cold! I should have known that my tastes wouldn’t change that dramatically for no reason. I miss tea already, but no doubt I’ll return to normal soon. I certainly hope so!

Boiling 4 min, 45 sec 1 tsp

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Another of the teas I started last week, primarily as a bedtime brew. I was expecting a generically sweet cup, but this is actually pretty much spot on cotton candy. There’s a sugary sweetness, and an almost marshmallowy/strawberry element that takes it from being just sweet, into actual cotton candy. I’m holding on to my pouch of 52Teas reblended Cotton Candy black, because that was the first cotton candy tea I tried that really lived up to its promise. Now that there’s this one as well, though, I feel like I can maybe be a bit less sparing with it. Maybe.

The rooibos base here is fairly undetectable. With any tea but rooibos, that would probably bother me, but this one is clearly all about the flavouring. It’s a sweet, caffeine-free pre-bedtime treat, and the sprinkles add that little extra touch of fairground cuteness. They’re small enough to melt completely, so none of the stuck in the steeper basket anguish. There’s a lot to love here, and love it I do.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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I’ve drank a good few cups of this recently, so I can vouch for its deliciousness. The orange flavour reminds me of Kia-Ora, so not exactly natural orange flavouring, but the cream more than makes up for that. It’s so utterly cream-like, it’s almost dreamy. Besides, Kia-Ora reminds me fondly of my childhood.

The rooibos base is really nowhere, here. I can’t taste it at all underneath the flavouring. With a splash of milk to augment the creaminess further, it’s almost like drinking a cup of (artificially) orange flavoured cream, or melted orange ice cream.

I haven’t ordered from Della Terra for ages, but if I were to, this is one I’d look to pick up again. It’s a great caffeine free option, and it tastes just as it promises it will. No complaints here.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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So yesterday I finally remembered to give this a try hot. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 170. One sniff told me all I needed to know – this is just as good brewed hot as it is cold. The raspberry is clear and strong, and beautifully candy-like. There’s a light pastry element, and a sweet, glazed icing-type flavour right at the end of the sip. It’s one of my favourite white teas, currently, and one of my favourite raspberry teas EVER. I’m almost reminded of a doughnut, although this tea has a delicacy that the average doughnut does not possess.

Oh, god. Now I want a doughnut.

170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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Final sample from Angel and Teavivre. I’m a beginner at Pu-erh, and a nobody when it comes to Raw Pu’erh. This will be the first one I’ve ever, ever tried. I’ve heard good things, though, so I’m actually pretty excited to dive straight in.

Fresh from the packet, the dry leaves smell of apricot and grape. There’s a deep, winey scent which is really appealing. The recommended parameters are 6-10 minutes at 212, and I’m going to go for the bottom end of the range for my first steep. I gave the leaves a short rinse before preparing my first cup proper.

First cup, and the liquor is bright golden yellow. The scent is very fruity; stonefruit generically, but I think apricot more specifically. To taste, it’s a completely odd duck. Initially, I’m getting quite a strong flavour of mushroom; quite nutty , a little damp-tasting. Then a smooth, sweet apricot note develops, which, frankly, is more than a little weird next to the mushroom. There’s a light astringency in the aftertaste, but nothing overwhelming.

Second steep is very similar to the first. The mushroom notes are a bit milder, but the same (quite jarring) contrast with the apricot is still there. The astringency is increasing, to the point where my mouth and throat feel quite dry after taking a sip.

I know this one is good for multiple resteeps, but I’m going to leave it here because I’m not really enjoying it. I have another sample of this one to try at a later date, so hopefully I can analyse what I’m doing and make some amendments. I think perhaps western style brewing is not the way with this one.

Boiling 6 min, 0 sec

I’ve found puerh is best suited to the short steeps of gong fu brewing. You might give that a try.


also… if you don’t like the first few steepings if you do them gong fu, just toss out the first few… haha

Terri HarpLady

Welcome to the wonderful weird work of Sheng :)


I would agree with tealizzy, I steep shengs for around 10 – 30 seconds. 6 minutes is way too long.

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A sample from Angel at Teavivre. I’ve drank a fair few white teas on my journey so far, but I don’t think I even really knew they came in cake form. Once again, Teavivre broadens my tea horizons! The pouch directions specify 6-10 minutes in boiling water, so (with trepidation) I jumped in at the bottom end of the scale for my first steep.

The liquor is bright amber, very orangey. The scent is honey and hay, very thick and sweet. To taste, I picked up a distinctive (and unexpected!) mushroom flavour, and a touch of of damp leaves. So autumnal! I was expecting something more reminiscent of your average white peony blend, but this is completely different (and delicious).

On second steep, the liquor is again bright orange/amber. The main flavour this time is cinnamon, followed by the deep, rich flavour of dried apricots, rounded off with smooth, sweet honey.

Third steep, and the liquor has lost some of its amber/orange colouring. It’s now a more “ordinary” red-brown. The scent is more like I’d expect from a shou mei, quite floral (peony-like), with notes of hay and honey foremost. The flavour is, again, savoury. The damp leaf flavour from the first steep has re-emerged, and is followed by a heavy floral note, then, right at the end of the sip, a tinge of raw, green wood. There’s still a light, smooth creaminess to the overall cup that I really like.

Fourth steep also has a reddy-brown liquor, very similar to the third steep. The scent is primarily floral, like an ordinary shou mei, but with hints of wood and damp leaf. To taste, the flavour this time is noticeably more delicate than previous steeps. The main note I can detect is wood, followed by a hint of cinnamon, rounded off with the floral, peony-like flavour I’ve come to associate with white tea. It’s a tiny bit drying in the mouth — not astringent or bitter at all, but a little powdery in the aftertaste. Mid-sip, the liquor itself is still smooth.

Fifth steep, again, results in a red-brown liquor. The scent is wood and an almost dusty floral. To taste, I can detect primarily peony. It’s a reasonably mild flavour all round, but still definitely identifiable as a shou mei. The drying, powderiness is still present.

Sixth steep, and the liquor is now more of a golden brown than a red brown. The scent is lighter this time around, but I’m picking up raw wood and peony. To taste, the main note is now just plain peony. I notice that the layers of flavour are diminishing a little with successive later steeps, although I still feel like this batch of leaves has a lot to give. The dryness I noted in my previous couple of cups is becoming more pronounced.

I’m pretty sure this one could have stood more steeps, but the work day is pretty much over. I’m not going to try and take the leaves home with me (lack of a suitable container, really) so it’s goodbye for now. I have another sample pouch of this one, so I’ll try and fit a few more steeps in next time. Given that it’s entertained me all day, though, I consider it great value! I’d definitely consider buying white tea in cake form in the future.

Many thanks to Angel and Teavivre for providing this sample. I really do feel like my understanding of white tea has improved since I started the sampler!

Boiling 6 min, 0 sec

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This was last night’s pre-bedtime cup. I haven’t drank this in a little while, so it was a real re-acquaintance. I used a smaller cup than normal, I enjoyed it a lot more than it appears I have previously. The cream and vanilla flavourings came out really clearly, and tasted wonderfully thick. The rooibos was a little woody, but toned down well with a splash of milk added. A lovely creamy treat, and one I’ll have to remember to revisit more often! I’ve increased my rating a little to reflect such a successful cup. I feel like I finally “get” this one now.

Boiling 4 min, 45 sec 1 tsp

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I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t too sure about this one on first sip. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it three minutes in water cooled to approximately 180 degrees. Looking at the dry leaf, there doesn’t appear to be a huge quantity of green tea leaves. It’s mostly lemon verbena, and stevia, as far as I can tell. Perhaps accordingly, the liquor is a pale lemon-yellow. The scent of both the dry leaf and brewed cup is deeply lemony – like lemon zest.

To taste, I was initially disappointed to find the flavour very mild. Lemon sherbets are a strong flavour, with a kick of sharp/sour alongside the boiled sweet sugariness. This tea is much, much more delicate than I was expecting. There is a distinctive lemon flavour; very much like lemon squeezed into water. It’s mildly sour, with a hint of sweetness from the stevia. There’s nothing that’s really making me think “sherbet” though. Not enough of a tang!

I like this one as a gentle, fresh lemon-tasting tea. I feel a little disappointed that it doesn’t live up to its name, but I imagine it would be good iced as well as hot. I’ll happily drink up the rest of my bag, but it’s not one I’d repurchase.

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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A sample from Angel at Teavivre, and the final flavoured white I have with me to try at work today. I agree pretty much with K S’s sentiments in her note — jasmine is one of those things that I have become leery of, primarily because my experiences so far have been largely disappointing. Strong, cloying, potentially chemical flavours, usually in bagged tea. I have since tried a couple of better quality jasmine teas, and they’re starting to change my mind, but none so much as Teavivre. Their jasmine just seems…different. Milder, sweeter, more grape like and less perfumey.

I’m seeing here the same silver needle base the other two teas I’ve tried today had. Pale, creamy green buds, very downy. I’m sure I’m seeing a dried jasmine flower in the dry mix, too. The scent is lightly floral — both the headier, perfume-like floral of jasmine, and the lighter, sweet hay-like floral of the silver needle. I used 1 tsp of leaves, and gave them 2 minutes in water cooled to 175.

The taste is very mild; much milder than the scent of the dry leaves would have led me to believe. This is fine with me, though. Mild jasmine is more suited to my tastes! It also means that the flavour of the white tea base still shines through, and that’s a good thing in my book. When the base tea is this good, why would you not want to taste it?! I’m getting the same fresh, clean cucumber flavour as I have with the last couple of Teavivre whites, and a hint of sweet, hay-like floral. The jasmine flavouring floats over the base tea like a scented cloud; it’s a delicate, airy, heady floral that makes its presence known without being overwhelming. I still probably wouldn’t choose a jasmine tea if left to my own devices, but I wouldn’t say no to another cup of this one. I think I knew it already, but both white tea and jasmine are going to be synonymous with Teavivre for me from now on!

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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Hi :) I’m Sarah, 27, and I live in Norfolk in the UK. My tea obsession began when a friend introduced me to Teapigs a good few years ago now. Since then, I’ve been insatiable. Steepster introduced me to a world of tea I never knew existed, and my goal is now to TRY ALL THE TEAS. Or most of them, anyway.

I still have a deep rooted (and probably life-long) preference for black tea. My all-time favourite is Assam, but Ceylon and Darjeeling also occupy a place in my heart. Flavoured black tea can be a beautiful thing, and I like a good chai latte in the winter.

I also drink a lot of rooibos/honeybush tea, particularly on an evening. Sometimes they’re the best dessert replacements, too. White teas are a staple in summer — their lightness and delicate nature is something I can always appreciate on a hot day.

I’m still warming up to green teas and oolongs. I don’t think they’ll ever be my favourites, with a few rare exceptions, but I don’t hate them anymore. My experience of these teas is still very much a work-in-progress. I’m also beginning to explore pu’erh, both ripened and raw. That’s ny latest challenge!

I’m still searching for the perfect fruit tea. One without hibiscus. That actually tastes of fruit.

In addition to Steepster, I also write for the SororiTea Sisters. My reviews there will typically be posted here also, although typically in a shorter format. Any teas I’m sent specifically for review will only appear in full on the SororiTea Sisters website, with only a short introduction and link to my review here.

You’ve probably had enough of me now, so I’m going to shut up. Needless to say, though, I really love tea. Long may the journey continue!

My rating system:

91-100: The Holy Grail. Flawless teas I will never forget.

81-90: Outstanding. Pretty much perfection, and happiness in a cup.

71-80: Amazing. A tea to savour, and one I’ll keep coming back to.

61-70: Very good. The majority of things are as they should be. A pleasing cup.

51-60: Good. Not outstanding, but has merit.

41-50: Average. It’s not horrible, but I’ve definitely had better. There’s probably still something about it I’m not keen on.

31-40: Almost enjoyable, but something about it is not for me.

11-30: Pretty bad. It probably makes me screw my face up when I take a sip, but it’s not completely undrinkable.

0-10: Ugh. No. Never again. To me, undrinkable.


Norfolk, UK

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