169 Tasting Notes


Thanks once more to TeaVivre and Angel for this sample!

Again I must preface this note with a disclaimer that I am not a green tea aficionado. As an allergy sufferer, I need strong smells and tastes to penetrate my constantly tormented sinuses and taste buds. A lot of green tea selections seem to have flavors that are much weaker than the black tea powerhouses that I prefer. Plus, I require a more electrifying caffeine jolt in the morning to bring me back to life.

When I opened this package, I noticed the fresh quality of the long green tea leaves. This is probably because the harvest was less than two months ago. The unbrewed odor was very faint and somewhat grassy.

I steeped the leaves for two minutes at 185 degrees as directed on the package. The color of the brewed tea was an extremely pale greenish gold, just a tad darker than clear. I didn’t detect any aroma emanating from my cup, even when I pushed my snozz deep inside of it.

The flavor was…there…but it lacked definition, depth, and power. It wasn’t unpleasant. It wasn’t bitter. It was illusive. After really concentrating and focusing hard during a cup and a half of sips, I was finally able to register a ghostly sweet and lightly grassy taste on my palate.

If green teas are your preference, and your sinuses are in much better shape than mine, you probably won’t find anything dislikable about this selection. However, if you are olfactorily challenged (as I am), you may find yourself pining for TeaVivre’s Premium Keemun Hao Ya or Yun Nan Dian Hong – Golden Tip black teas (as I did).

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec

It has been good to see you back in Steepster, Stoo!


Thanks, ashmanra! It’s very kind of you to say that! I’ve missed being here! My birthday is coming up in a few months. Hopefully I’ll get more new teas to write about! :-)


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Thanks again, Angel And TeaVivre, for this sample!

It appears that I wrote a tasting note about this tea a year ago. After I finish this note, I’m going to go back and read last year’s note to see if I’ve become wiser or just more crotchety.

A strong but nice grassy aroma emerged from the sample packet when I opened it. The unbrewed green tea leaves were long, bright, and flat.

I steeped this tea for two minutes at 175 degrees (one degree lower than the recommended 176 degrees due to tea maker limitations). The brewed color was a fairly vibrant golden green. The odor was grassy and sweet.

As you may have seen me write ad nauseam, I am not a green tea banner waver. However, I’ve got to say, I REALLY like the taste of this one!

The flavor is fresh, sweet, and grassy, like a newly mowed Spring meadow. Absolutely no bitterness is present. The aftertaste lingers delicately on your palate.

It’s hard for me to rank green teas since I tend to dismiss them after tasting them. But, if forced to do so, this selection would definitely be near the top of my list!

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Thank you once again, Angel and TeaVivre, for another sample!

OK. I don’t want to beat a dead horse (or tea leaf) but green teas and I aren’t close. I’ll try them and any other variety of tea, but I’m a black tea kind of guy.

When I opened the sample package for this selection, a fairly strong grassy aroma burst forth. The leaves were full, bright green, and flat.

I steeped this rascal for two minutes at 175 degrees. The brewed aroma was again grassy and a touch sweet. The color was a fairly golden green (which became bright gold after 30 minutes of post-brewed heating).

I was pleasantly surprised by the moderately full taste of this tea. Sometimes green teas don’t contain enough flavor to completely register with my taste buds. This selection had a very recognizable grassy and sweet flavor. The taste was light and lively with an equally affable aftertaste.

I’m not ready to replace my stash of black teas with green blends, but I did find this variety quite pleasant to sip during the early afternoon. I’m sure I would also enjoy it during my days off from work when my brain doesn’t require as much kick-starting.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Thanks again to Angel and TeaVivre for this new sample!

Let me quickly again sum up my feelings about green tea: not much into it. However, I am always willing to try new varieties, and have found a few that I’ve liked, not enough to make them a daily habit, but they’ve been tasty.

The flat bright green leaves in the sample package of this selection had a sweet grassy aroma. I steeped them for two minutes at 175 degrees as recommended in the instructions (176 degrees was recommended, but close counts).

The brewed liquid was an extremely pale golden green. The steeped aroma was very faint and slightly sweet.

It took several sips before my brain and taste buds could process enough flavor information to classify it. Then, I began to discern a sort of sweet, slightly spicy, kind of grassy taste. The flavor was smooth, very light, and too delicate to produce any bitterness.

This tea was pleasant to drink and may be a fine late afternoon or early evening selection, but I prefer stronger and more robust flavors. To be fair, I should also mention that we are now in peak pollen and allergy season here in South Carolina, so my tasting apparatus isn’t as sensitive as it is at other times of the year.

Having said that, there is nothing at all wrong with this tea’s amiable flavors. The volume just isn’t pumped up enough for my preference.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Thank you Angel and TeaVivre for this sample!

I am always excited to try new black teas. The black blends are definitely my favorite. I love their robust and powerful flavors as well as the extra jolt of caffeine that they give me in the morning to launch my day.

This selection from TeaVivre worried me at first because of the word “fragrant” in the title. I tend to not enjoy blends that include flowery or perfume-like tastes and aromas. However, I was immediately encouraged when I noticed that there was no flowery or perfume smell when I opened the sample packet.

I steeped the thin black short leaves for three minutes at 195 degrees (one degree more than the instructions recommended due to tea maker limitations). The brewed color was a dark amber. There was no “fragrant” aroma wafting from the cup (which was fine with me).

The taste of this brew was slightly sweet and malty. It also had the earthy quality that I’ve grown accustomed to with other Keemun teas. I did not detect any floral or fragrant attribute in the flavor either.

The aftertaste was pleasant and a tad sweet. Bitterness was completely absent.

This is another very nice tea from the folks at TeaVivre. In my opinion, the absence of anything “fragrant” makes it even better!

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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More thanks go out to Angel and TeaVivre for another sample to taste!

I’m never very confident that I will like new green tea selections because I prefer robust and potent black teas to bring me into consciousness each morning. I was even more leery of this sample for two reasons:

1) Well…It’s green tea. :-)
2) The recommended steeping time is only 1 minute! How much flavor can possibly be wrung from the tea leaves in that brief period?!

But, always game to try new varieties, I marched on. The full green leaves in the sample packet had a slightly sweet and grassy odor. I followed TeaVivre’s instructions and brewed this tea for 1 minute at 175 degrees (176 degrees was actually recommended but the tea maker has no setting for it).

The brewed liquid was a pale golden green, which surprised me. I was expecting little color at all after only one minute of brewing! The aroma was grassy and sweeter than the unsteeped leaves.

When I sipped this tea, I did so very slowly and purposefully at first, not wanting to miss any of the quickly brewed flavor. I was quite pleased to discover that an ample and satisfactory sweet, grassy, green tea taste existed! The flavor also contained undertones of something extra, not quite floral, but like an echo of honeysuckle. It was very smooth with not even a trickle of bitterness.

To make a long story somewhat shorter, I liked this selection. It didn’t make me a green tea convert, but I will re-steep this blend for a few more cups. It is smooth, light, and airy, and probably has everything in it that I would love…if I loved green teas. :-)

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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It’s great to be tasting and reviewing new teas again after my three-month hiatus! Since I’m the only tea drinker in my house, it became urgent for me to go into self-imposed exile, to whittle down my accumulating stash before it needed a room of its own.

Thank you, Teavivre, for putting me back in the game with more free samples!

I’d already tried a few other brands of Lapsang smoky tea and liked them all, so I was anxious to experience Teavivre’s variation on this familiar theme. Bring it on!

Upon opening the two-cup sample package of full tea leaves, my nostrils immediately detected the smoky aroma that I remembered from the other Lapsang smoky selections. However, this scent was not nearly as powerful as the other brands had been.

In accordance with Teavivre’s instructions, I steeped the tea at 195 degrees (the instructions specified 194 degrees but my tea maker is not quite that precise – close enough!) for two minutes. The brewed liquid was a light golden color. A slightly smoky aroma was emitted from my cup.

At first sip, the smoky taste was definitely obvious but it did not slap me silly like the other brands. The other selections gave me flashbacks of sitting by a campfire.

With my second sip, I contemplated whether the more subtle smoky quality was a good or bad thing. But…then it happened. A mellow and sweet taste began to emerge from the smoke. The extra flavors added an interesting complexity that I hadn’t experienced with this type before.

The aftertaste of this tea was complex, mellow, and sweet without bitterness. The smokiness was discernible but did not scream for attention.

I like this selection very much. I realize now that, with tea (like other things in life), what you are used to is not always the best, and more is not always better. This tea has everything that you would expect and desire in a Lapsang Souchong smoky black tea, and so much more, without shouting. This blend should be savored, not gulped!

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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drank Ginger Peach by The Republic of Tea
169 tasting notes

This was another bagged sample obtained by my lovely wife at a high-class hotel during her business trip. I am no longer a big bag advocate but I am always more than willing to sample new tea selections.

I steeped this tea on our office Flavia coffee machine by pouring the machine’s boiling water over the bag into a paper cup. The Flavia aparatus does include a “tea” setting to do this, but the setting is no more designed for tea than it would be for instant oatmeal.

In any event, I let the bag sit in the boiling water for five minutes. The resulting color was a reddish golden brown.

As I raised the cup to my lips, I detected a peachy aroma. This made me anxious for my first taste since I rarely smell anything with brewed tea bags. However, the party ended when the flavor hit my taste buds. I did not think it was possible but the taste was actually weaker than the aroma.

The flavor was lightly peachy. The ginger was missing in action, up to about my twentieth sip. Then, I tasted the hidden ginger behind the peach attribute.

This tea does have a natural (instead of chemical) peach taste. There is no astringency to note. I would have liked it more if the flavor was bolder and the ginger was allowed to assert itself. The bag package claims that it was made from the “finest black tea leaves.” If so, let them shine, Republic of Tea! This selection had about the same amount of black tea flavor as herbal tea.

Did I hate this tea? No. Will I go out of my way to try it again? No. However, I would give it another shot if I had the opportunity to test this blend as a full loose-leaf and properly infused incarnation.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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I have become a tea snob and don’t drink bagged tea anymore unless I am in the office. Such is the case this morning as I sample this “Eco Bag” obtained by my thoughtful wife at an upscale hotel during her business trip.

I have to admit, the bag looked pretty cool. It was extremely clear so you could thoroughly see the chopped full-leaf tea particles inside. The package boasted that it was “made of renewable resources, including bamboo, its open weave design allows optimal full-leaf infusion.” That sounded impressive but I was more concerned about flavor.

I tossed the bag into a paper cup and set our office’s Flavia Creation 400 coffee machine to run boiling hot water over it. I let the bag soak for five minutes. (Oh, how I missed my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker.)

As has been my experience with most bagged teas, there was no discernible aroma emanating from the cup. The color was a reddish golden brown.

My first sip only produced a mild black tea taste with a touch of astringency. I needed several more gulps before I could begin to identify the Assam, Ceylon, and Darjeeling flavors that comprised this blend. After that, the taste settled into a mild but slightly shrill breakfast tea.

All in all, this selection was not bad but it did not excite me or make me want to add it to my shopping list. Perhaps the full loose-leaf version, brewed in my tea maker and gently poured into my layered glass mug at home, would thrill me much more (location…location…location).

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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It is already great to be off from work until the new year, but having a new Christmas present tea to taste makes life even better! I was fascinated by the name of this tea.

Being of direct Scottish heritage (my mother was born and partially raised in Scotland), and having spent a month and a half in Scotland myself, I was intrigued by the inclusion of Scottish thistle in this tea. Heather, I could understand. After all, heather is a sweet and dainty little flower that grows on the Scottish hillsides. Thistle, on the other hand, has painful thorns. According to legend, the invention of the kilt was necessary to allow Scottish soldiers to be mobile when marching through fields covered with this prickly plant. So, thistle is not an ingredient that I would expect to find in my beverage.

When I opened the hinged tin and pierced the bag inside, I noticed that the short tea leaves were like coffee grounds. Also, many red and yellow thistle blossom pieces were mixed with the leaves. The aroma of the unbrewed leaves was standard African tea with something extra, although the smell was not flowery.

I brewed the leaves for five minutes at 212 degrees, the maximum recommended time and temperature. The color was a brownish gold. The brewed aroma was again standard tea with something else.

I hate to be repetitious, but the flavor of this tea also was…you guessed it…standard tea with something extra. The best way to explain it is that the sweet overtones and astringency that I’ve often noticed in flowery teas were present in this tea, but not to the extent where I could classify them. I can only identify the taste by calling it STANDARD AFRICAN TEA PLUS.

This is a pleasant tasting tea. It is not bitter. I liked drinking four cups of it. I just did not find the flavor easy to pinpoint. Maybe that doesn’t matter. Perhaps I should just shut up and enjoy it.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

Sounds interesting! A Bonney cuppa Scots Tea! I was sent some Campbell’s Shortbread, we should’ve gotten together! I’m an active member of Clan Cameron, and you Stoo?


Hi Bonnie! Campbell’s shortbread sounds great! My wife is Italian but she is a pastry chef that can make anything. She makes me Scottish Empire Biscuits for Christmas each year. They are just as good as the ones my Scottish grandmother used to make! The Scottish teas would definitely go hand-in-hand nicely with the shortbread! I’m a member of Clan Stewart (“Stoo” is a derivative of that name) and Clan Robertson. I hope you had a nice Christmas!


Yep! My Grandmother was a Stewart and my dad Johnstone. Lot’s of fun! The Highland Games in Estes Park (about 45 miles away) are grand at over 7,000 ft. and 14,000 ft. peaks surrounding, makes me feel like I’m in the Highlands of Scotland. http://www.scotfest.com


You and I must be related then, Bonnie! The Stewarts must have gotten around more than George Washington. It seems that I run into Stewarts everywhere! I attend the local Scottish festivals in the Carolinas when I have a chance. They are always fun and it gives us our only chance around here to partake in Scottish cuisine like meat pies and steak & kidney pie. Although, my wife has made both for me and hers are great too! Your festival in Estes Park looks like it’s fantastic!

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I ventured into the world of serious tea drinking in the Summer of 2011. I started out slowly and gently with bagged tea but climbed to the incredible flavorful heights of loose leaf teas in October of that year. Once you go leaf, you never go bag (except when you get free samples)!


South Carolina, USA

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