I loved the description of this so I decided to order some with my initial H&S sample order.

It’s got whole flower heads in it, which I thought at first might be chrysanthemums. Thankfully they are chamomile flowers as I don’t get along well with mums. The leaves are a green/grey, and look like white peony. The smell is, oddly, chocolate/vanilla mint/creme. Like Andes mints with vanilla ice cream. No idea where this comes from given the almonds and chamomile, but I’ll go with it as I like Andes mints just fine. ;-)

It still has that Andes note in the aroma after steeping and there’s some almond here as well. The liquor is sort of a light amber. A bronzed yellow. Clear.

The taste is pretty interesting as it’s very similar to the aroma but not at all something you’d expect from the ingredients list. For one thing, it’s like the cardamom is chocolate instead of itself. I wonder whether that’s why some chais that aren’t chocolate chais still have a sort of chocolate note to them. I don’t taste anything that tastes like what I’d expect cardamom on its own to taste like. This isn’t a spicy tea. It may be spiced, but it isn’t spicy. The almond is sort of hiding as well. The vanilla is there, but paying homage to the chocolate/vanilla continuum in that it’s kind of hard to tell where one flavor stops and the other starts. Though let me reemphasize that as far as I’m told through the ingredients, there IS NO CHOCOLATE in this tea. Tell that to my taste buds.

I maybe get a little of the underlying white tea, but it seems mostly a base here for the flavors to do their frolic and detour on. Flavored white teas, it seems to me, are tricky. Not as tricky and more forgiving than flavored greens, but tricky nonetheless. The flavor of white tea can’t really stand up to anything intense. It does best with subtle fruit or floral flavors superimposed on it, nothing heavy which obliterates the tea.

This isn’t an unpleasant drink at all, it just doesn’t seem very self aware. I would think it could call itself White Chocolate and get away with it, but the Christmas name suggests something heavily spiced or appley, maybe. This isn’t that. Probably a good thing as I’d think that would make for an even worse white tea.

I don’t feel compelled to reorder this but I would drink it again if it were offered to me. And I wish there was some way to reconcile the actual ingredients with the flavor that didn’t leave me feeling entirely disassociated.

175 °F / 79 °C 5 min, 0 sec

I tried this at Barnes and Noble but they had burned the heck out of the leaves, and my mouth. All I tasted was paper cup. I want to try it again with water that isn’t hotter than physics actually allows.

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I tried this at Barnes and Noble but they had burned the heck out of the leaves, and my mouth. All I tasted was paper cup. I want to try it again with water that isn’t hotter than physics actually allows.

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I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tea skills and tastes developed they became far less appealing to me. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with me. That said, I’m not entirely a purist, and I enjoy a good flavored tea, particularly flavored blacks.

I like all kinds of tea depending on time of day, mood, and the amount of time I have to pay attention to preparation.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

90-94 First rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Excellent; will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

People have sent me tea on occasion, and I was once persuaded to send some Tazo Om to AmazonV. I’ve also done at least one group buy here on Steepster, the famous Doulton-led Dammann Freres experiment years ago. But mostly, I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it, though I don’t put samples in my cupboard and not everything I have at any given time is showing in my cupboard. I do try to remember to remove things from my cupboard once I no longer have them.

I was an early internet adopter and have been online in various environments since around 1990. Steepster is one of the nicest online environments I’ve ever been privileged to participate in and that is saying something. :-)


Bay Area, California



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