96 Tasting Notes


The dry leaf doesn’t smell of much, but when the hot water hits, it releases the citrusy aromas promised. The liquor is sweet, fruity, and smooth with a lovely, lightly floral aftertaste. There’s absolutely nothing bad I can say about this tea (except for a somewhat unpleasant tingle at the bottom of the throat, but it’s barely worth mentioning). Granted this is the first example of an Oriental Beauty I’ve tried, but I’m very impressed.

ETA: Second steep had an interesting lemony tartness, which was overtaken by woodiness in subsequent steepings.

Flavors: Apricot, Fruit Tree Flowers, Lemon Zest

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Made up a pot of this for breakfast (2 heaped tsp for ~450 ml). The first cup poured was frankly too weak for milk, and the second cup (poured only seconds later) needed more milk & sugar than I expected. Maybe I need to stir the pot before pouring, or strain into a pitcher and then pour into cups, or just use the one-cup brewing basket like I did last time.

Boiling 3 min, 15 sec

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1 heaped tsp dry leaf to ~7 oz water. I must have used a different leaf:water ratio in the last note, because at 3 minutes I found it pretty unpalatable plain, but quite nice with 1/2 tsp sugar and a restrained splash of soymilk. Goes pretty well with peanut butter & raspberry jam on toast. Bumping up my rating a bit.

This tea is now a year and a half old, so I’ll see if I can swap it for my normal breakfast tea and use it up within the next few weeks.

EDIT: Resteeped nicely – 4 minutes produced a mellow oaky cup complemented by a little agave. Bumping the rating a bit more.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Amber by Lahloo Tea
96 tasting notes

Another one of the older teas in my stash. Dry leaf is tightly rolled like gunpowder; aroma is charcoal and lightly burnt toast, which turns more towards freshly baked bread crust while steeping. In my first taste I immediately picked up dark chocolate, although it didn’t stick around very long. Mineral notes are also present, becoming a metal-like tang in the back of my throat and sides of my palate. I’m not getting any fruit, but maybe some kind of wood instead? Sandalwood perhaps?

The flavor isn’t really wowing me, but it is giving me a bit of a happy warm fuzzy feeling.

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Picked two bags of this up from a cruddy little London hotel I stayed at a few months ago. I prepared it the same way as I do any new bagged black: boiling water, 3-4 minutes, 1 tsp sugar, splash of soymilk.

It had quite a malty aroma while steeping. I was a little dismayed when the liquor turned a muddy brown after adding the milk, rather than the usual warm coppery color, but that’s just cosmetic.

The taste isn’t much better – it’s definitely black tea, but a weird mishmash of flavors I’m unaccustomed to (is that lemon I’m picking up?), and way too much sugar for the strength of the blend. It was okay when I was sipping it along with my morning toast, but I’m not a fan of it by itself. I’ll try the other bag lightly steeped & plain to start with. Apparently this brand is based in the Netherlands, so maybe they take it differently there?

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

Big brand in Denmark as well. And no, it probably just is that poor. I find it sort of on the same level as Lipton.

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Don’t Be Afraid Of Tea, part 3

A very complex, intriguing offering from Stacy. Dry leaf smells strongly of fresh pineapple; while steeping, the pineapple aroma is overtaken by perfume-like florals. The taste is less perfumey but still very floral, with a well-integrated mild pineapple flavor. Neither agave nor sugar changed the flavor much at all, so I’d probably drink this unsweetened.

Flowery, pineappley oolong – does what it says on the tin. Not sure this is entirely up my alley, but it is very interesting and impressive nonetheless!

180 °F / 82 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Another one of my very old teas. The best-before date for this one is 10 months ago, but I was able to detect honey notes and some muskiness. I’m still undecided about Darjeelings in general, but this wasn’t too shabby for a tea that’s probably gone stale.

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 15 sec

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Part 2 in my Don’t Be Afraid Of Tea series.

Some of my teas are getting pretty old. Out of curiosity I searched my email archives for my first Butiki order. It was placed 11 months ago. Yikes. So yeah, now I know which ones to prioritize.

Dry leaf consists of gunpowder-like pellets that are fragrant with a metallic tang. Like gunpowder, they also expand a crazy amount while steeping (how the heck did they get such a long stem rolled into such a tiny ball?!) but with a sweet, woody (iirc) aroma.

Initially I wasn’t sure what to make of the first infusion, as I wasn’t tasting honey or apples or anything else in the notes, but flowers. Just oolongy, orchidy flowers, especially in the aftertaste, which made me seriously question my palate. Fortunately I like most florals in my tea, so I was happy. Subsequent steeps were progressively weaker, with that same metallic tang from the dry leaf scent coming out in the third.

Not what I was expecting, but very enjoyable nonetheless! I’ll try using different water & parameters to see if I can coax out some of the flavors that other people are getting.

180 °F / 82 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Hooray, Whittard has steeping instructions for this on their website now! Unfortunately 2 minutes is too long for the first steep, especially with the amount of dust and broken leaves I pulled up in my spoon. The flavor is pretty good, but I dislike the astringency, which makes the entire inside of my mouth feel like fine sandpaper. Next time I’ll try it at 1 minute and see how that works out.

The aroma of the dry leaf is amazing, though. I could spend all day with my face in the container.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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I am the worst. I keep buying tea and not drinking it because I’m still afraid of screwing up and wasting tea, like hoarding it and letting it go stale is so much better.

Well not anymore! I finally cracked into this pouch and I’m glad I did! I wasn’t sure how I’d take to this one, as it’s supposed to be similar to dragonwell and I haven’t been too impressed with the dragonwells I’ve tried thus far, but I was not disappointed. It’s a little sweet, a little savory, with a light dryness at the end of the sip. It’s quite moreish, as they say here in UKland – I keep grabbing the cup for another mouthful as soon as I’m finished with the preceding one. Yummy!

160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec

Yes! I am so happy that you are enjoying this one. I had been looking to come up with a tea in order to satisfy my (and that of my customers) desire for a dragonwell tea. People have asked why I don’t source the famous Dragonwell tea. It is because I have been to the area where it is grown and will not buy teas from that area. When I was there, I could not breathe due to the smog from the factory cities that have sprung up around there in the last bunch of years. Even if the tea is grown without sprays, the air they bathe in day and night is tainted and that will alter the tea greatly. No thanks.

So I found this tea on one of my trips and it turns out it is the ancestor to the dragonwell tea. I am happy to have found it. The area this Valley Peak is grown in is so lovely and fresh and the tea itself is grown without sprays. This is as clean as it gets.

The whole experience of being in tea growing areas that were inundated with air pollution turned out to be a good thing. It led me to really investigate the various growing areas in order to get teas for me and my customers that are grown cleanly. China is a HUGE country and there are still many many areas that are pristine in their growing conditions.

I really appreciate you taking the time to write up your take on this one. Thank you.

With gratitude,

adagio breeze

It’s no trouble at all. Thank you for leaving such an informative comment!

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I grew up in New Jersey drinking Celestial Seasonings, and now I live in England, where I developed a taste for a good builder’s brew. Sometime in 2012 I bought my first loose teas, and my collection has since spiraled out of control. Still quite a novice, due to not drinking enough tea to keep pace with the amount I keep buying.

Some things I’m pretty sure I do like:
- most florals (jasmine, orange blossom, osmanthus, etc)
- buttery, vegetal greens
- malty blacks (usually with milk & sugar)
- oolongs that aren’t too heavily roasted

Not really feeling the flavored teas lately, for whatever reason.

All tasting notes use unfiltered hard tap water, unless otherwise specified.

No real method to my numerical ratings yet, but we’ll see what develops. So far I’ve only given ratings of 90 or higher if I actually get excited while drinking the tea.


Bristol, UK

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