1655 Tasting Notes


A sample from VariaTEA! I’ve tried a few honey rooibos blends to date, and I’ve enjoyed pretty much all of them. Some more than others, it has to be said, but I’m pleased to say there’s not been a real dud so far. I’m encouraged by this one, because the dry leaf inside the bag smells very strongly of honey, and it’s not even touched water yet! I gave one bag 5 minutes in boiling water, and added a splash of milk.

To taste, this one has a strong initial hit of thick, syrupy, runny honey! It’s almost like drinking a cup of the real thing, only conveniently less sticky and viscous. The rooibos is fairly mild, and I think the milk helps with that a little bit. It’s very smooth and easy to drink, and the honey flavouring really shines.

This will probably be my last cup of the day at work, and it’s a good note to end on. The perfect sweet afternoon treat, and nicely calming and relaxing too. Sometimes I don’t realise how tense I am until I take a minute out, making teas like this a necessity. Yummy stuff!

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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A sample from VariaTEA. Dry, the leaf smells so sweet and meringue-like, so I’m hoping that some of this translates into the flavour. I gave 1 tsp of leaf 3.5 minutes in boiling water, and the resulting liquor is a medium golden-brown. No milk.

Brewed, the scent is still sweet and meringue-like, with a hint of strawberry. The initial sip of this one reminds me of a strawberry refreshers bar – sweet, candy-like strawberry, almost a little sherbet-y. There’s a underlying sugary creaminess that does remind me of meringue. The black base makes itself known at the end of the sip, where it stops the flavouring lingering for very long. It’s not bitter or astringent at all, but it does round the sip off a little abruptly. I’d been hoping that the strawberry-sherbet-meringue flavour would stick around a little, but instead it ends almost on a dry, flat note.

I’m glad I didn’t add milk to this one, as I’m not sure I would have been able to taste the flavouring as well. It’s not that it’s subtle, but I do think milk would have drowned this one a bit. As it stands, I’m enjoying this one a fair bit. I like the flavour, although it’s a little artificial tasting, and I’d happily drink another cup if the opportunity arose. It’s not world-changing, but it’s a sweet, pleasant afternoon treat.

Thanks again to VariaTea for sharing this one with me.

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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drank Buddha Bamboo by Tea Desire
1655 tasting notes

A sample from VariaTEA. I’m more or less out of my tea hiatus now, as my cold is beginning to depart. I know I’m not 100% back to normal in terms of taste, but I’m probably as well as I’m going to be for a fair few days. I can’t go without tea for much longer!

So anyway. I’ve never had a bamboo tea before, so I wasn’t all that sure what to expect. I followed the recommended parameters and added 2 tsp of leaf to boiling water for around 8 minutes. The resulting liquor is medium yellow, and smells fruity and a little vegetal.

To taste, I get an initial fruitiness. I can more or less pin it down to red berry, although there’s a light tropical element lurking around in the background. There was a cube of pineapple in the dry mix, so I guess it’s that! The fruitiness fades gently into a relatively think-tasting sweetness, almost like sugar-water, which I assume is the bamboo. The sip ends on a light herbal note.

I have to say that I’m really enjoying this one. I like the use of bamboo as a base – it really seems to let the fruit flavours shine through, while providing a pleasantly substantial backdrop. Often, my complaint with berry teas is that the berry is too hidden by other flavours. Here, it’s just perfect! Definitely one I’d try again if the chance arose.

Boiling 8 min or more 2 tsp

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I’m still not completely over my cold, so I’m limiting the “good” tea I drink because I know I just can’t taste it right now. I made an exception for this one, though, because I have a large bag, and because it sounds perfectly suited to a sore throat. Chili!

I used 1.5 tsp of leaf, because it’s quite chunky. The dry mix smells strongly of tropical fruit — all coconut and pineapple. I left it for the recommended 4 minutes in boiling water, and returned to a medium red-brown liquor.

First sip, and it’s the fruit that comes out most clearly. I can taste pineapple first, then a creamy coconut. It’s fairly fleeting, though, and after that initial hit, I can taste mostly tart/sour hibiscus. Fruity, though, in a chutney sort of way. The chili develops primarily in the aftertaste, and it does have a bit of a burn to it. It nice and warming in the mouth and throat, as perfect as I’d hoped for a lingering cold! With every fresh sip, the sweetness of the initial fruit returns, the natural sweetness augmented by the sour hibi/spicy chili elements that have gone before.

This is a pretty perfect tea for this time of year. Warming, yet with a reminder of summer still lingering in the taste of the tropical fruit. I’ve had a few bad experiences with chili chai blends, but this is fortunately one of the ones that’s “just right”. Yum!

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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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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Hi :) I’m Sarah, 28, 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 my 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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