435 Tasting Notes

drank Masala Chai by Zen Tea
435 tasting notes

My dessert tonight consists of this chai blend brewed in 2 full cups of sunflower seed milk, 2 teaspoon of raw cocoa powder, a cinnamon stick and a few drops of maple syrup.

Can you feel how good this is?

Out.of.this.world. Traditional chai with a twist.

This blend is good in itself, excellent balance between cardamom, clove and ginger. I like that the clove isn’t overwhelming.

But with the added ingredients slowly simmered on the stove top, it gets elevated to the 10th power!

Yum, yum, yum…


Veronica, seriously, next time I have people over, I’ll prepare a gigantic cauldron of this and serve it after dinner instead of boring coffee!


Sunflower seed milk? really? Didn’t know that was available. Interesting. Your add ins sound really good.


Dexter, they sell it at a whole food store I go to. It’s nutty and really good. Since I don’t drink real milk, I alternate with all the vegetal milks I can find!


I don’t have whole foods here, and I’ve never seen it – but then again look what happened with the frozen cherries – will have to keep my eyes open.

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«This is my #1 favourite black tea» Dexter3657 wrote on this sample she so generously shared with me.

I won’t let this influence my note, but it’s always nice to know you’re drinking someone’s favourite tea :-)

Oh…it’s a nom-nom-nom tea. Sweet and malty, it’s what I call a comfortable tea. I’m sure it’s the type that does’t require much care in the brewing method and always comes out delish, no matter how bad you’ve treated it. I’m having it in the glass Gongfu pot. I forgot how long my first brew was, and it did not affect the taste. No astringency whatsoever.

It’s a Fujian and it wears that beautiful golden robe.

Yes, it’s fruity and nutty, with hints of baked potatoes. But it also has a saltiness and spiciness to it, almost brothy and savoury.

I like it cause it’s different and brings a different dimension to some other similar teas I have tried.

Thank you so much Dexter3657 for sharing one of your favourite with me :-)

Non tea related content:

It’s bird season, and as you know, I’m a fan, I feed them all over the yard. Since this morning, I have identified 17 different spicies. In a few weeks, I’ll have over 40 different species coming and going in the many feeders I fill with love every week…

I thought I’d mention them cause they are beautiful and really gave me joy today.
As I’m writing this, I’m watching a male Rose Breasted Grosbeak, just stunning!


That’s great about birds, thank you for sharing! Would you recommend any book for identifying birds?


You are welcome Kat_Maria!
I hardly use any books now, I converted to the iPad app iBird Pro, the best tool ever. You get so much more info, and you can hear the sound they make, that’s a big helper with species that are very similar to one another like Sparrows.

The book I would recommend is the one I used for years, North American Guide by Donald & Lillian Stokes. Very complete guide an easy to use with real illustrations of males, females and immatures. They sell it on Amazon:


Happy sighting :-)


The book looks really interesting! Thank you! I am more interested in a simple, physical book rather than an app or a website because the place where I see most unique birds is where I don’t get Internet access. This app sounds great, though!


Lol, yes, the fact that I live by the forest makes it easier for me. You can’t go wrong with the book. I still carry my book when I go on vacation or on lakes and rivers.

(but just so you know, the app doest require an internet connexion, it’s like an encyclopedia download, once it’s done it’s always available on your device, just the updates require a connexion, thought I should mention it :-))

Happy that you enjoyed this!!! Happy bird watching too – tea in the back yard watching the birds sounds like a really nice way to spend an afternoon to me.


This sounds great. I’m always a fan of teas that gracefully take abuse! (Would love to enjoy watching your feeders, too.)


Thanks Dexter, it was a lovely rainy day :-)

Gmathis, I abuse my tea constantly!

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drank Black Beauty by Mandala Tea
435 tasting notes

There is no information available on the origine of this tea…at least I didn’t find any.

Is it a Taiwanese black? I’m a big fan of Oriental Beauty oolongs, and this somehow reminds me a lot of that. Maybe that’s the reason it’s called Black Beauty? The strong honeysuckle sweetness makes me wonder if it’s a leaf hopper bitten tea, just like Oriental Beauty. Garret, if you read this, please enlighten me, I’m the curious type :-)

Regardless of where it’s from, it’s mighty delicious. It’s got dark chocolate notes, and it’s a little boozy and bready. There’s that common note I find in Oriental Beauty that I always have a hard time putting my finger on, like citrusy and spicy at the same time. Once, Terri Harplady commented on one of my OB review that the note I was referring to tasted like coriander to her. I don’t think I would have been able to identify that myself, but because she has mentioned it, I’d say I agree with her, it’s close enough.

This is a tea worth having in the cupboard, thank you so much Dexter3657 for this opportunity, it’s right up my alley. I might be sipping down the last of your sample, but I’m so glad I made it part of my last Mandala order!


I love Oriental Beauty teas…and it’s because of you ! I tried my first after one of your review (about the OB one friend of you offered you)


Chère Ysaurella, I am honoured to have inspired you to try some OB, it,s also one of my favourite tea and yes, it was a friend who introduced me to it, and I am so grateful :-)


This is one of my favorite teas. Usually on weekday mornings I steep a HUGE much of Special Dark with a couple of BIG pinches of Black Beauty in it. I know. But its sooooo good!


mug not *much. (bless my heart)


seems really a great tea


Hi!! This is a tea that I found during my 2012 April trip to China. I fell in love with it instantly while at the wholesale tea market in Kunming – Yunnan, China. The minute I got the first shipment once arriving back, I marked the keemun black I had way down and got rid of it. This one blows keemun out of the water (in my opinion) and the customers who I turned onto it, really thought the same.

It is not bug bitten, but oxidized in a similar way to the oriental beauty with shaking and fermenting, etc. and brews up so very nicely at a pretty wide range of temps. Some folks are brewing it up at 195, others 205, 208. They’ve been brewing it up western style and gongfu alike, each way producing great results.

As long as this producer is making this tea, I will have it available. The spring crop will arrive in the next few weeks!!


I do both and I like it both western and gongfu. Its just that on weekday mornings I don’t have the time to really appreciate the gongfu. This must ALWAYS be gettable.


This is what I LOVE about Steepster. Love how we all have different opinions of the same tea. I adore Mandala tea, but this isn’t my favorite. I wrote something like – it reminded me of the sensation of astringent white wine in your nose – TeaFairy said “boozy”. LOL I didn’t like that sensation, she did. It’s so interesting. I should love this, but there is just something about it that confuses me and it’s really finicky. It makes me happy that you guys love it. :))


MzPrizz, i love a creative mind, now I will have to try your special blend, mmmmm special dark, so good!

Garret, thanks for the info, this is great! (Now I can’t help thinking of poor Keemun being blown out of the water, lol)

Dexter, it’s funny to see our different but similar comparisons ;-)

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drank Melon Oolong by Lupicia
435 tasting notes

Try to say melon-oolong more than once. Melong-noolon, menon-oonong, nelon-moonong …hope you can do better than this. But really, how many times can you get it right???

Despite the fact that this tea makes me sound like I’m speech impaired, I have nothing but love for it.

Think about that smell when you cut through a ripe juicy cantaloup or honeydew melon. The smell is so sweet and sunny.

I always say melon is a summer trap, and cutting it open is like setting summer free.

The nice creamy slightly floral oolong base is the perfect companion to this “hard to get right” flavour. Cucumber notes cut through the sweetness of this tea. If you are not a fan of melon things, stay away. If like me, you think things are never “melony” enough, than indulge in this juicy marvel of a tea.

Can’t wait to try it cold brewed!

This is part on my first Lupicia order, and so far, I am impressed. And believe me, it takes a lot to impress me with flavoured teas.

(Too bad shipping to Canada is so expensive!!!)


Yay – you did pretty good with liking the flavored ones you chose. According to Canada Post my order is in customs. According USPS it hasn’t shipped yet – go figure….


Yes, I’m a happy camper so far:-)
That’s one confused tracking you have there, lol. Really wonder why it’s taking so long for you to get your order…


Sounds lovely!


They don’t love me as much as you…. :))


Marzipan, I highly recommend :-)

Haha! Dexter, it must be that darn email…


you should tell me how it is cold ! I had too much melon and not enough Oolong for me in the hot beverage and wonder how it could be cold.


This sounds spectacular. I’ll have to check it out.

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drank Mocha Mint by Mate Factor
435 tasting notes

Psst…chocolate & mint lovers…look at what I have here.

Sweet roasted carob and roasted maté, blended to perfection with super fresh peppermint.

This beats all the chocolate mint tea I’ve had so far.

Just thought I’d share the news.

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It’s a beautiful sunny Easter Sunday in my neck of the woods… Not as warm as it should be, but at this point, we’ll take anything mother nature is willing to give.

I’m admiring the birds chanting their melody of happiness in the feeders. My cats are also watching, but in a very different way. Their watering mouths slightly open , they wish they could feast on one of them…sorry kitties, not going to happen!

I’ve decided to cold brew some spent leaves of this tea last night cause I had only a few Gongfu sessions and they still had a lot more to give. So today, I can drink it iced for the first time.

I am so impressed with this tea. It is stunning to look at, and it tastes like no other tea I own. I mentioned in my previous notes that its natural sweetness reminds me of maple water, still does. Cold steeped, the conifer piney note emerges more than when it’s hot, but it’s still just a hint.

In fact, every note in this tea is subtle, but as a whole, it’s bursting with flavour. I could buy this by the pound, that’s how good it is…I’m almost out, but still have a serving or two left, thankfully :-)

(See previous notes)


Do your kitties do a little chatter with their mouths when they’re watching birds? Mine do and I think it is so funny looking.


Haha! Morgana, that’s exactly it, just didn’t know which word to use in English to describe that “behaviour”. In French, we say “tremblement”. So chatter , like they are chatting, easy to remember :-) Aren’t they funny when they do that? It looks like some uncontrollable mouth spasms, lol.


Tremblement is an excellent word for it! Yeah, it’s like their little jaws are trembling uncontrollably!


I think I am harboring a murderer at my house. He meowed that he was innocent yesterday when he came inside, but there was a suspicious little feather hanging off the tip of one whisker…


Oh nooo! Suspicious indeed, poor little birdie :-(
I think kitty should take a “meow-detector”, you need to know the truth…

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This tea is surprisingly good. I was expecting something heavy and sweet like Davidstea’s version, but was curious to try and compare. Nothing fake, so natural tasting.

I don’t know why but to me it smells and tastes like fresh summer rain. I know what fresh summer rain tastes like cause just like when I was a kid, I still dance in the rain with my mouth open during hot rain showers. Yes, I look silly but I don’t have close neighbours and I just love rain, what can I say?

This is slightly fruity, slightly floral, but nothing heavy like a desert tea. Feels more scented than flavoured actually. It has a faint tartness like fresh raspberries have and I notice some subtle peachy notes as well. The white base is lovely, I’m guessing Bai Mu Dan from the looks of it.

I would order this again in a heartbeat. Sadly, I ordered only a sample in my order. Samples are my karma. They always end up being the ones I should have ordered a bunch from!!


Ooh! That sounds delicious. I also love the idea of dancing in the rain. It’s been way too long. The closest I’ve come is running in the rain, and while it’s fun, it’s just not the same.


Cheri, glad you don’t think it’s totally silly! My dog loves it too :-)


Let’s be honest: we all wish we had the freedom to dance in the rain.


Haha! I guess you’re right. I always say living in the woods has its perks :-)


I wish we had some rain to dance in…

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Oh they know they are special, don’t they…I now understand why they don’t offer samples, why they only sell 4oz tins. Who’d want just a tiny little supply of this god damn fine tea?

I promise, you have a sip of this, and you want to curse like a lumberjack in action. %$&?!? this is good!!!

Full bodied, malty, just a little smoky, very assertive yet smooth, a Mr. Personality!

It’s not fancy, there are no poetic inspiration that comes to mind when I drink it…

It just pleases me in every possible way.

It’s as if I had spoken to my tea this morning and said something like this «TEA, I command you to taste like a slap in the face and satisfy my every desires like no other tea has ever done in the morning!» and this is what I would have gotten.

Thanks Dexter3657 for paying attention by adding this one for me, I understand why it’s her favourite blend. I was dying to try, but not willing to commit. Now it will be hard to stop me from placing an order.


Really? I wasn’t so sure that you would like this one….
Happy that you do – buy we need to talk about “stop me from placing an order”


Lol, I said «it will be hard» this means I’m HOPING someone WILL stop me cause the last thing I need is more tea!!! But this is sooo goood!!!


Sorry lady, its very very good. I love all A@D teas;)


I have about 3/4 of a can if you want more – can send you some to tide you over until you get your cupboard under control….


Boychik, you are not helping at all ;-)

Awww! Dexter you are sweet… But considering how expensive they are, it would be very selfish on my part to accept such an offer. I just have to control myself!!!


But the tin I have was gifted to me by an incredibly generous Steepster friend – it’s a tea in my cupboard that I feel I should share… I won’t force it on you , but if you ever want more, just let me know. :))


Haha! Then…yes please!! :-):-):-)
And I can always return the favour when I order… eventually

Terri HarpLady

And while we’re on this topic, have you tried all of A & D’s other teas yet? If not, I’ll be glad to send you samples of them :)


LOL ok I’ll toss some into your next box. :))


Terri, it is my understanding that they have only a few blends, right? I have tried only Tiger Assam (which I equally loved) and this one… I would NEVER ask you to send me something without giving in return :-) :-) :-)

Michelle Butler Hallett

So far, Double Knit is a regular item with Damn Fine, versus a limited edition. Double Knit is one of my favourite blends, EVER.


Michelle, I see that many people have fallen in love with this tea and I now understand why :-)

Terri HarpLady

Let’s see…Here’s what I have:
double knit
tiger assam
Caravan – smokey black
Redtailed Hawk – black blend leaning more in the ceylon direction, a little bright, but still very drinkable
Chinese New Year aka Golden tips – A Dian Hong type
Spring – their latest, a Keemun type

I have a bunch of tea from you already, that were sent to me by Sil, so in a way, we’re already deep into a trade! :)


Terri, please see PM :-)

Michelle Butler Hallett

A&D have a special on: choose your own three-pack (from the regular stock) for $48, versus $20 per tin.


Thank you michelle, will sure keep that in mind when comes time to order :-)

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What a beautiful tea this is tonight…gives me the clarity I need on certain decision making. Tea does that for me.

They say “sleep on it” when uncertainty hits you. Well, I’m not much of a sleeper, I’d rather have tea and reach for a nice cha qi moment, that warming feeling that makes everything seem brighter and gifts you with its silent lucidity.

I’m loving this tea. It’s robust, not for the faint of heart. It’s the solid type you can rely on, it welcomes you and embraces you when you feel weak, a hugger. A deep black sea once brewed, I just stare at it with gratitude.

I know I’m weird, but often, tea has a “gender” for me. Leathery, and earthy, very manly, this on is the “Stetson and Chaps” kind of guy. Masculine and yet, it works its magic on the girly girl that I am…

Thanks Sil for this last sample, simply wonderful…and thanks Mandala for providing such a tea.


YAY! i’m so glad you enjoyed it my dearest teafairy


I liked most of the teas you sent me my dear Sil :-)


oh man.. that’s a hard act to follow lol


Lol, no pressure…I had a few misses with the flavoured ones, but really, I pretty much liked all the straight teas :-) we’ll have to do this again, but I must bring that humongous stash of mine down first!!!!


I’ve thought many things of my teas, but never gender. I find that concept fascinating and will have to reflect on that. Thanks :)


Haha! TeaExplorer, maybe this just works for my crazy mind, but yes try it, you might be surprised :-)


i totally agree with this whole note! it is a very masculine tea. makes me think of a classic old man type library with leather upholstered furniture and musty old books and a window opening out to a wet forest. this was the first pu erh that ever blew me away and i think it’s still my favorite (granted, i’m still a pu erh newb though so take my excitement with a grain of salt maybe, ha).


TeaExplorer, when i had this one the first time it made me want to do a tea party where “gender” was a theme…floral things like victoria-type earls, the french perfumed blends, but also these leathery pu erhs and smoky chinese teas.


How is it possible that I haven’t tried this one?
So happy that you enjoyed it!!!
When Grace first introduced me to Mandala (THANK YOU GRACE!!) she referred to Noble Mark as a gentlemanly pu’erh – interesting that ifjuly thinks this one is an old man type. Love you guys and your interesting comments. :))


This is what makes patty cake if I remember right. I’ll put some in your box dexter


Loved this review so much that I am brewing this one up in the shop today for sampling, gosh darnit! Grinning from ear to ear with your postings!

Sil… yes, the Phatty Cake is made with this exact same material. Phatty Cake II is this same material with the addition of some slightly larger leaves to switch is up a bit. They were steamed and pressed 2.5 yrs apart or so.

Wishing everyone a very joyful day!


Ifjuly: love your description!! I’ve been reviewing with “gender” in mind for a long time, glad to know there’s other people in my “tea gender club”! And a tea “gender” party sounds awesome, what a great idea :-)

Thank you Dexter, we love you too!!!!

Garrett, thank you and a joyful day to you also :-)


it has a minty quality to it, subtle but cooling and clean, as a heads up Dex. at least i think so. i love it—it’s what sets it apart and to me takes it over the top—but i know you have an uneasy relationship with mint, so i thought i’d mention it. i don’t know yet if phatty cake retains it (i mean i suppose it should, but it’s funny how things work sometimes), haven’t broken into mine yet…

tea gender club! hee. it is nice to know i’m not weird. or, if i am, i’m not the only one. ;)


Yes, I had only a sample of Phatty (from Dexter actually), and I checked my note, it does seem to retain it as I wrote «a minty fresh finish». Lots of good quality pu’erh have that finish I find, but it’s more a fresh feeling in the mouth than an actual mint taste most of the time for me, so maybe Dex could tolerate it? So thoughtful of you to mention it…

I think we should all fully embrace our weirdness together :-) :-)


That’s what I wrote about Phatty cake… I didn’t think mint at the time.
I think WE are perfectly normal – it’s the rest of the world that whacked…. :))


Lol, Yes Dex, it’s us against the world…and I bet we are having more fun than they do!!!

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My morning is usually devoted to black tea, oolong is an afternoon friend, and pu’erh is more serious an usually gets the evening, (flavoured are “in between” teas). Habits, I’m full of them! That’s my tea MO, but having said that, I will happily interchange the order from time to time, but this morning, I stick to the usual…

I chose this Golden Monkey, sent to me by the generous Dexter3657.

This is a high quality tea, you know just from looking at its little golden claws.

Golden Monkeys are not my favourite black teas as I prefer a fuller bodied cup. This one is light to medium body. I over-leafed as usual, cause that’s my preference.

It feels very different from other GM I’ve had. They usually have what I call a Mexican cocoa feel to them, like chocolate with a hint of smoke. The smoke is there, but I find no notes of cocoa. It’s definitely more on the savoury side, roasted veggies, almost peppery with a hint of sweetness.

All in all, a very satisfying cup, but not something I would stock up on. I prefer Teavivre GM, which is a lot sweeter, chocolaty with big notes of sweet potatoes.

But this was a new experience, I’ve never tasted a tea quite like this one, very unique
and I am so grateful I got to sample it.

Thanks you Dexter3657.


“I prefer Teavivre GM, which is a lot sweeter, chocolaty with big notes of sweet potatoes.”
TheTeaFairy, I’m with you, TeaVivre Golden Monkey is sooo satisfying!


Interesting, I think I like this one better than Teavivre – but to each their own. That’s why we have to keep tying new ones – right? :))

Terri HarpLady

I’m with you on devoting the mornings to black tea!
I haven’t had Capital’s version of Golden Monkey, but I sure do love Teavivre’s!

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Time to update this profile of mine…it’s 2015!!

I am French Canadian, so please forgive me if my English is not always perfect :-/

My relationship with tea in a nutshell:

I’m married to straight Black. I have torrid love affairs with Oolong and Puerh. I party with Green and White occasionally. Flavored are not my BFF, I usually stay away from them.

Love Steepster, a place for tea lovers, where you learn and share with others.

About me:

I am a free spirit, I let people be who they are and expect the same in return.

Books! I love classic literature, but also modern and pretty much anything that captures my attention.

Music is also something I can’t live without… From Bach to Nirvana, my ears know no boundaries…

Animal and nature lover, amateur photographer.

I’ve been drinking tea for as long as I can remember.

Drinking tea is a sensorial experience. The name in itself “Camellia Sinensis” lingers the promess of an adventure for the senses…

Not a big «swapper», but will occasionally. Not because I don’t want to share but because I’m trying not to hoard so much.

Also, I have narrowed down the teas I really like over the years, and I don’t feel the need to try and buy everything the way I used to. (Maybe I have become a tea snob? Sigh…)

My ratings: because I pretty much drink only teas that I judge exceptional, my ratings are usually high. Don’t be shocked to see lots of 90’s and a few 100’s. That’s because I’ve had my share of crapy teas and I’m done with that ;-)

You can find me on Instagram here, I post about my tea sessions mostly, but also about the beautiful nature that surrounds me, and my fury companions :-)



The Laurentians, Canada

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