2026 Tasting Notes

drank Cherry Pu-erh by Nature's Tea Leaf
2026 tasting notes

I started out my friend tasting unflavored puerh because I think it is great by itself, and I wanted her to have a good idea of what it is like. I had made two steeps of this already today, and once we had a few steeps of unflavored puerh I resteeped this again.

We drank two steeps of this one in addition to the others we had, and she really liked it. She was very enthusiastic about it, and I am not terribly surprised because she is very adventurous food wise and tries a lot of neat and unusual recipes. So yay! Another person who will drink puerh with me!


Ill have to give this one a shot when I venture into puerh land…maybe that should be my New Years resolution

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Tonight was writers’s group at my house but we had fewer people than usual thanks to colds and work related issues. This meant more time for tea! My partner in culinary crime loves to experiment so I asked her if we had ever tried puerh together and she said no. I gave her a brief history of the drink, let her sniff this cake, and since she didn’t run in fear I started steeping.

Five steeps later, we have a convert. She really liked it. I steeped it for over a minute each time…one steep was quite a bit longer and every steep was good. I used about a teaspoon of leaf pried off the cake into my eight ounce pot and we used a fair cup. Very good, with a nice cedar oil mouthfeel this time!


I’m telling you girl…just as I was saying to I-bloom, that a year ago, I remember some ladies shakin in their boots at the mention of Pu-erh who are lovin it now. Who would have thunk it! We’re a pu-erh sisterhood, like pu pioneers (some were ahead of us though like Amy Oh).

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drank Cherry Pu-erh by Nature's Tea Leaf
2026 tasting notes

This was a surprise in the mail from the talented GMathis! First of all, it came in this amazing card!


Second, I really do like puerh. This is a funny thing because I dislike coffee, yet when I have a guest who says they really don’t like tea but love coffee, I serve them puerh and they love it! I was told puerh was an acquired taste, and while the smell of the first fishy Tuocha I bought scared me, I liked the taste from the get-go. Then when I found better quality puerh, I was eager to get to know more.
I like unflavored puerh just fine, but most of the flavored ones I have tried have been good.

This one is more exciting because I have loved everything I have tried from Nature’s Tea Leaf.

I steeped this in boiling water for about two minutes. I don’t mind my puerhs being inky black so that was a short steep for me! But the smell….ah, the smell. Even in the card, it smelled so good and juicy. Last night, I kept it beside me and sniffed and sniffed.

I am not a fan of weird cherry flavor. I don’t care for Cherry Coke. I don’t like rooibos because it tastes like cherry cough syrup to me. I love good cherry flavor and lay in a stash of cherry lollipops at Valentine’s.

This tastes like my Black Cherry Matcha! Well, the cherry part does anyway! And the puerh is a beautiful grounding for it and they have blended it just right. I could have sworn I even got a little natural chocolate-y flavor in the base. There is no fishiness at all – this is an nice earthy puerh. Good golly, this is tasty! I made 16 ounces and swilled it down in no time! This has great balance. If you are afraid of puerh, you should try this first!

This is great puerh and is the first real rival for position with Lupicia’s Chocolate Strawberry Puerh. I will be serving this tonight for Writers’s Group. (We really should name ourselves. Maybe it should have something to do with tea!)

I have been trying to whittle down my stash but every time I try a NTL tea I think, “Well, this has to go on the list for my first order.” Same for this one – it is definitely on the list and is probably also going to be the birthday gift for my puerh loving friend.


Oh no! Now I want this!

Hesper June

I literally squealed out loud when I saw the card!


The card is beautiful…


oh no a good flavored pu!


Bonnie, I just ordered 4 from their website!


That is a completely awesome card. You are such a lucky duck :)

Tina S.

Oh man, this sounds amazing. I’m desperately searching for some good flavoured pu’erh.


The design isn’t quite fit for human consumption yet, but I made a couple that say “…and what would Lady Violet say?”


LOL! You will have to post that card when you have it ready, GMathis!


LOVE the card!!! gmatis – I hope you post a pic of the Lady Violet one when you feel it’s ready. SUNDAY NIGHT = MORE DOWNTON in the USA! Yes!


I am so photo un-proficient! Will see what I can do. So looking forward to season 3 and keeping fingers crossed that the weather’s clear. Yes, we live in Green Acres with no satellite or cable and when it’s extremely cloudy or windy, our PBS reception weirds out.


We have to put this flimsy antenna on this special chair — only this one chair works, just so – to get PBS. I know just when you mean. We also can’t move, at all, for the entire show because we might lose the reception.


i loved pu-erh immediately, but it MUST be mixed with a complementary flavor. this one sounds like a specially good one.

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drank Black Gold by Mandala Tea
2026 tasting notes

This was a free sample included in my Christmas order from Mandala Tea. Thank you, Garret!

It is tea party day! We didn’t have a tea party last week since it was the day after Christmas, and I wanted today to keep the holiday festivity vibe going! My middle daughter made a pan of brownies with freshly ground whole wheat, which makes really yummy fudge brownies, and we served it with homemade vanilla ice cream.

I also served Bonne Maman Fig Preserves. Ysaurella said she liked it best with goat cheese but I have none at this time so I served it with my warm homemade cheese spread that has a bit of onion in it.

I told youngest I would make this pot personally because I couldn’t believe we were going to get enough strength in a black tea in just one minute, but at one minute the color was nice and dark and the aroma was strong, so I did pull the basket.

I think this was the favorite tea of my guest today. She said it left behind a creamy feeling and had the most enduring aftertaste of our teas today. There is something rather unique about the aroma and flavor of this one that I couldn’t quite pin down and I hope someone more experienced will be able to describe accurately. This is fruity without being sharp, not a Darjeeling type of fruitiness but rather a baked fruit that has been mellowed and sweetened by the heat of baking.

It paired nicely with our food. We drank it without additions and it was sweet and smooth.
I look forward to trying further steeps of this!


Good paring…I was going to ask Garret about a puerh that might be like the 2009 Menghai Red Aura…wine like in flavor and smooth, but more ripe and jammy with sunshine in it but not a lot of cedar, redwood or pepper (I was thinking about a Paso Robles Zinfandel). So, if he’s nosing around here…ahum…let me (us) know!

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I saved my leaves yesterday because I suspected that this one was a good resteeper. I was right! The second pot is still going strong and makes me wonder if this might even go three steeps western style.

The brew is light/medium orange and the flavor is roasted walnut with some sweet notes. Very nice!

Thank you, Nuvola Tea, for letting me try this!

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This tea intrigues me most out of the new samples sent by Nuvola Tea for review.

I have never heard of a black oolong. I read their description that it is black tea made from oolong tea but I am still a bit in the dark. Is it black tea produced from a varietal that is normally used for oolong? Were the leaves first subjected to the processing for oolong tea, then for black tea?

I decided to go middle of the road with this one, using 194F water and giving it a little less than four minutes to steep.

The aroma is very fruity, the tea a medium orange color. The taste is a bit befuddling, but good. It mixes the flavor of a light black tea having fruity notes with the flavor of a dark roasted oolong. The sides of the tongue really sense that roasted oolong aspect. There is a nice sweet aftertaste.

I decided to see how it goes with food – snack, actually, and specifically pumpkin roll. I am pleased to say it went well, and now I notice that there is a smoky bottom to this tea, the roasted aspect becoming more obvious when pitted against the sweetness of my dessert. Nice pairing! Thank you, Nuvola Tea, for the opportunity to taste this!


Using the oolong varietal, as I understand it. Bit like how Shang Tea sells black tea made of leaves normally used to make white tea.

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drank English Breakfast by Harney & Sons
2026 tasting notes

My tin is getting dangerously low, and I bought the one pound bag! It is almost gone…

It is finally a really cold morning here. I needed some warmth to look forward to after breakfast. Tea is almost always after, rather than with. This one is especially yummy today.

There is a taste and texture I get from some Keemuns and from Teavivre’s Fengqing Black Dragon Pearls. It is almost as if a dark cocoa powder is being dragged across your tongue, and that is a good thing! I guess it doesn’t sound that way, but it is, because it is a chocolate-y but dry but not an astringent feel that is going on. It catches your attention if you are distracted by other things and says, “Hey, appreciate me here!”

This is really hitting the spot this morning.


Do you think this one is similar to the HRP Royal English Breakfast, or is there another Harney which is most similar? Love the strength and flavor of the Royal, but would like loose :)


I feel that this one is smoother, Jacqueline. The Suoreme English Breakfast is more similar to the Royal Englsih Breakfast. This one is pure Keemun. I will get some on its way to you today! I am ordering another pound and a pound of vanilla black as well! Also, I want you to try Hugo Tea Organic Mornings Journey. I think it is right up your alley. Thomas would want you to have some.


Wow, I just looked back at this and saw all those typos. Where is autocorrect when you actually NEED it? LOL!


I will send you some Mountain Rose Herbals in exchange! xoxox


I need to find out if Hugo has a storefront, since they’re in my state. We don’t head that direction very often, but I’m sure I could find an excuse….


Check out their Facebook page! It says you can buy their tea at Mildred’s in the crossroads. Not sure if that helps, I am guessing it is in Kansas City.

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Today for lunch I made turkey panini with sautéed onions, lettuce, Raspberry Enlightenment from Penzey’s, and mozzarella cheese. As a side dish I had rotini noodles with Double Devon Cream, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheese. To me, that meal screams for a good, stout Chinese black tea, like Keemun Hao Ya or Fengqing Dragon Pearls. But hubby doesn’t go for many black teas…yet. His favorite black tea is Ceylon, and even then only certain Ceylons will do.

He liked this one very well, and drank three cups to my one. I really wanted some tea after lunch so I tried resteeping the leaves, something I don’t do with just any black tea because so many come out weak. This was definitely weaker, but still very enjoyable.

Side note: the puppy we are fostering because she was hit by a car is doing well and should be ready to go up for adoption in a month or less. The puppy I keep on Tuesdays is staying with us indefinitely now since his owner is in the hospital having tests run. So every bite I eat, every sip I drink, is watched by three pairs of eager eyes…

Josie Jade

My Mom stayed at my house over Christmas. With our own dogs/cats and then the foster dog and foster cat, we had 5 dogs and 3 cats. That’s a lot of eyes watching as we ate our Christmas dinner, hahaha! Good luck with the foster pups!


Thanks! The vet says little Rosie will definitely keep her leg, so that was great news! We will probably have her until near the end of January.


I have some Raspberry Enlightenment too! I’ve only used it in a chicken dish so far. Have you used it in other dishes that you like? I want to try the salad dressing :)


..and three pups! Your cup runneth over :)


We have used it for a dip with Lil Smokies wrapped in Crescent Rolls, our version of pigs in a blanket. I have also put it on turkey and ham sandwiches. A deli in Raleigh outs apple butter and it was so good that I thought RE would be, too, and it really is. Hubby likes it! That is the only way I have used it so far, and I am almost out!

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drank Almond Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
2026 tasting notes

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drank Cheesecake Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
2026 tasting notes

I had a matcha marathon! This was one of the flavors in my latest order that I had never tried. (Two were refills of old loves!)

I like cheesecake but I don’t love it unless it is the kind I make myself. I don’t want it dry and dense, or heavy. I actually prefer the easy, super creamy kind that has a sour cream, sugar, and vanilla topping on it.

One of the main aromas that hit me when I opened the pouch was vanilla. That is great, because I love vanilla!

(By the way, I haven’t seen anyone address the best way to open these pouches to prevent the loss of any precious matcha powder. These pouches are vacuum sealed so tapping it lightly on the counter is not going to jiggle the powder down lower. If you start cutting or tearing the pouch from the side a little poof of your matcha might escape, or even more.

There is a little half circle notch on top of the pouch. Make a tiny cut right there with scissors, just big enough to allow air to enter the package. Now the matcha powder will obey the call of gravity and go to the bottom of the pouch so you can safely cut a larger opening and pour it into your container without losing any!)

So on to the tea! We made hot matcha lattes and they were excellent! I think this would be awesome for mixing with MOST other flavors, too, to lend its creamy vanilla goodness. I really want to try this as a cold latte tomorrow. Almond matcha is still my favorite of all (right now!) but this is running a close second, maybe tied with butterscotch!

You can buy it here: http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/cheesecake-matcha.html


Have you ever tried Japanese cheesecake? It’s much lighter but still super creamy: http://en.christinesrecipes.com/2011/02/japanese-cheesecake-fluffy-creamy.html


I don’t think I have ever had that! I think one of my kids may have had it, though. Maybe I should give the recipe a try!

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I am a music teacher and homeschooling mom who started drinking loose leaf tea about five years ago! My daughters and I have tea every day, and we are frequently joined by my students or friends for “tea time.” Now my hubby joins us, too. His tastes have evolved from Tetley with milk and sugar to mostly unadorned greens and oolongs.

We have learned so much history, geography, and culture in this journey.

My avatar is a mole in a teacup! Long story…


North Carolina

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