673 Tasting Notes

drank Je t'Aime by Nina's Paris
673 tasting notes

Thank you Nina’s for this tea sample

I could tell when I opened the little serving packet that the aroma of the tea was quite strong. It wasn’t my first encounter with Nina’s, so I was aware that there would be a lavish amount of flavor, and that if I over-steeped the tea it could be disastrous.

A light touch, lighter than recommended, would be best.

I used a small teapot, fresh boiled spring water and a 2 minute steep which produced a very rich, smooth and creamy caramel-vanilla tea.

With no additions, the tea was sweet and smooth. With cream I would be satisfied but I couldn’t resist adding sweetening, drinking my tea the way most people would drink a flavored tea.

My easily suggestive mind began imagining salted caramels…so I went to the kitchen and looked for the sea salt because I didn’t have any pretzels or chips. I tasted the salt and sipped the tea…thinking that I’d want this salty combination or some chocolate while kicking back watching a movie. Sweet caramel and salty or dark chocolate are favorites of mine.

I don’t believe a 4 minute steep is a good idea. Tone it down to 2 minutes! (I even made 12 oz of tea instead of 8 oz with that little packet Nina’s sent me.)


I always get two good steeps out of their samples! I can see it working with 12 oz tea because I am really getting 16 ounces out of mine, per teaspoon.


I could steep it again since I did a 2 minute which was plenty strong enough for me. Can’t imagine a 4 minute steep. Too strong! No wonder people keep saying this tea is astringent with that time and 8oz water…yikes!

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drank Marie-Antoinette by Nina's Paris
673 tasting notes

Thank you Nina’s for this tea sample!

Sweet, yellow delicious apples grew outside my bedroom window facing East towards the Coast Range just shy of the Pacific Ocean.

My father, Bill, had chosen a dwarf variety…which produced so many apples, that the tree appeared to be a vine with stakes holding up the branches across the end of the house. The flesh was soft, sweet and perfumed with an almost honeysuckle scent.

No apples are so sweet, as Sun ripened!

Nina’s reminds me of those apples and the flowers I would have found in my Grandmothers garden. Roses, camilias, dogwood trees,lilys and room for her prized tomatoes. (I still have handwritten recipes for catsup and venison).

My mind wandered to Versailles. Dappled sunlight shining through the apple trees, a breeze rifting leaves like many courtesans fans.
Marie-Antoinette Tea would suit such oppulance of architecture and nature.

I didn’t find the tea too much like Apple cider. Usually apple teas are flat and bland for my taste.(Possibly some people steep longer and the tea sours?)

A delightfully elegant tea.


I’m so jealous Bonnie because I didn’t have this one with my samples from Nina’s. Fortunately my mom bought a tin of it when she visited the castle of Fontainebleau so I’ll have a sample soon :) – lovely review as always


I like your style of writing :)

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I’m a person who needs to be ‘in the mood’ for an Earl Grey. I expect the day to be Spring-like or need perking up in the middle of Winter.

I’ve been very tired from anesthetic a medical procedure required which put me under a few days ago. Blah!

Today I decided to get out of my blah’s so I stopped by Happy Lucky’s Tea House to congratulate Andy, George and Joe for getting the new website up and running! High 5’s, and we chatted about how I was going to let the great people on Steepster know that the site was finished.

Soon, the blah’s came back making me feel queezy…so I ordered tea.

I like Madame Grey (a Happy Lucky’s custom blend)!

Madame Grey is smooth vanilla, gentle floral with citrus, lightly flavored with Bergamot. Not too light and not too strong, just right!

I’ve tried Earl Grey’s and thought that most were on the too light side, appropriate for afternoon tea and cookies. Not my kind or Earl really.

I’m a BLACK TEA LOVER! Madame Grey has enough body as a breakfast tea with cream or for drinking at any time. Tea Parties are not necessary!

This is one of the two Earl Grey’s I keep around.


It should be a nice Earl Grey so. I am an Earl Grey lover so I have 8 of them in my cupboard :S

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Today (for you who’ve asked me for updates), my local tea shop launched their product website! Happy Lucky’s is online! www.happyluckys.com
There are tea’s and something else…herbs and spices in bulk. I use these ingredients for making blends (especially the cocoa hulls,dry ginger and cinnamon chips).

Here’s an example of how I create my own blend from a box I created with the herbs and spices from Happy Lucky’s Tea Wall:

Lately, I’ve been enjoying pieces off my 2000 CNNP Yellow Ripe Beeng. After only one steep, the puerh releases a smooth rich velvet coat with hints of vanilla-spice.
Yesterday, I had a medical procedure and could only drink tea for 24 hours before with no milk. So I blended a good chunk of puerh (4 grams broken), 1TB cocoa hulls, a few cinnamon chips and dry ginger with a teaspoon of Laoshan Black Oolong (optional). For the 24oz pot I use about 1.5-2TB tea blend.
One quick rinse and steep for 2-3 minutes. Sweetened or not, this is a delicious blend! Smooth and just spicy enough without going too far!
I steeped again 3 more times during the day!
If you’re looking for a really good base for blending that’s smooth enough to drink on it’s own, this is the puerh!

Happy Luckys Teahouse Website is Oneline!


Woohoo! Thanks for sharing that they’re online now Bonnie :)


think i may have peruse… ;-)


At least if you click on the virtual tour (on the map I think) you’ll see the source of my stories sitting on the stool at the bar. Remember that this was once a firehouse (notice the poll) and was the model for the firehouse on Main Street USA Disneyland.

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I’ve written about this tea many times, however…there’s a new story!

Yesterday, I went to the Rocky Mountain Tea Festival in Boulder and attended a Seminar by David Lee Hoffman All in this Tea is a film about this famous tea pioneer (think it’s on Netflix).
The attendees tasted 10-15 Pu-erh’s of all kinds (the person pouring the Pu-erh was a bit heavy-handed a few I us thought, and I wasn’t impressed with the Pu-erh. He’s old like me, didn’t seem to know that anyone was directly sourcing tea from China in the United States (that’s what he said).

After the seminar, I went to Ku Cha Tea House on the Pearl Street Mall (the Dushanbe Tea House is beautiful, they have good food but the tea service is terrible!!!).

I always take tea with me to events and to tea houses. (I take tea everywhere really, since you never know when you might be able to share!)

Ku Cha Tea House wasn’t busy. One server had been at the seminar and asked what I thought of the pu-erh agreeing that the tea was heavy and bitter, oversteeped.

I offered tastings of two tea’s from my bag at Ku Cha’s gongfu table which surprised the staff in a good way.

First I pulled out the Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black and asked a gaiwan to be warmed by rinsing with hot water..

I placed dry tea leaves in the gaiwan, put on the lid and shook gently before lifting the top to smell the aroma.

I love scenting tea before steeping, and this tea has a sweet, waffle scent that surprised everyone.

The flavor was so deliciously sweet that descriptive words tumbled about as the frenzy for more steeping grew.

I pulled a packet of Verdant Yu Lu Yan Cha from my bag… with it’s potato, cocoa flavor (another shocking revelation).

Nick (the person who saw me at the seminar) brought out the shop’s best black tea which was Golden Eyebrow. It had small blue/black leaves with a rich malty flavor. A very good tea…but not as layered as the Wild Mountain or Yu Lu Yan.

I finished my day with new tea friends, then bought a pot of Chai to drink in the tea house back room by a large waterfall fountain.
(The shop has low floor tables with cushion seating and regular tables, a large waterfall with plants, Chinese art, lanterns and carved wood screens.)

Love this tea!!!


it’s almost back Bonnie! Soooo close (and yet so far…)

Butiki Teas

Bonnie-So glad everyone was loving the Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black!

Sil-I know, it’s been an excruciating wait. I’m waiting to hear back what the hold up is.


I saw that film too, it was interesting


This tea is really fantastic and I’m looking forward to see it back


It’s back….Monday!


Fantastic! I’ll get the word out! Hope this is as great as the last season.


Stacy posted that it’s slightly different – lsat year was a croissant with honey and this year is a waffle with sugar? i think it was…

Butiki Teas

Bonnie-Sil is right. It is a little bit different due to the rain, the leafhoppers weren’t as active.


I like waffles with sugar! Stacy, this was my 2012 TEA FAVORITE! Everyone with true tea experience (I shared with lots of people) who tasted it said it was in their top few tea’s also. I sent an ounce to a couple from China that were friendly to me at my church in California. They both have cancer. I know your tea will bless them.

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drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
673 tasting notes

Summer 2013 Version

Drinking this tea again, after it was gone…waiting for the Summer tea to arrive from Laoshan Village…took patience I do not have!

Laoshan Black grabs me by the ankles, gently sweeping me off my feet as though I am a young girl, wrapping me in delightful cocoa giggles.

If I have loved tea, it is due to this unique leaf unfurling an exquisite new world of aroma and taste. A flame was ignited which continues to illumine my senses.

I feel that I am a youth again, or at least…I know I’m young at heart.

I’ve waited a very long time to write down private thoughts about what drinking tea means to me.

Yesterday, after 2 years of contemplation, I wrote down these thoughts and would be pleased if you would read my blog. www.teaandincense.com

Laoshan Black continues to be a beloved tea and the Summer 2013 harvest has all the magic that I remember from my first tasting long ago.

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drank Earl Grey by Nina's Paris
673 tasting notes

Thank you Nina’s Paris for this sample tea!

The morning sun was very bright, one of those days when the news reports ‘sun glare’ for drivers and a caution to wear dark glasses to prevent accidents. I laughed when I moved to high altitude Colorado from sea level California and heard traffic news reports of ‘sun glare’. I don’t scoff anymore!

I decided to try a tea that I consider perky.

Earl Grey is one of those tea’s that has a citrus edge reminding one of Summer any time of the year. It’s not too fru-fru for a deep black tea lover like me.

This Earl is light and fresh, almost too light for my taste…but I can imagine that many are looking for just such a lighter bergamot tea. There is no astringency, just fresh, light flavor.

I had issues with Steepster yesterday (when I first tried to log this review) and got the dreaded black screen announcing that I had left the kettle on so I retreated to my blog and wrote some thoughts that had long been brewing in my mind about the meaning of tea in my life.

If you would like to read my latest blog entry… www.teaandincense.com

I’m off today to the Rocky Mountain Tea Festival in Boulder and will write about the adventure with some pictures. Sometimes vendors that we post reviews about are at the festival, and that’s always exciting.

Terri HarpLady

I wish I was there! Next year we should all converge on this festival!




By the way, the classes are $15 which is cheap!


Have fun at the festival!


I did! Ended up afterwards at Ku Cha tea house and as I always do, brought some Verdant and Butiki tea in my bag and shared with the tea servers. We did some side-by-side tastings and had a good time. They served me golden eyebrow black tea. I always follow by buying a pot of tea to drink in the back tea room by the fountain.

Terri HarpLady

Sounds like a wonderful day to me!! :D


I read your blog entry…thanks for the inspiration Bonnie :-)

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drank Nina's Paris by Nina's Paris
673 tasting notes

Thank you to Laurent of Nina’s for this sample tea!

As I often do, I took my Nina’s sample to share with my friends at the Happy Lucky’s Tea House.

Today, Andi (who just finished her degree in art at the University) was working behind the tea bar along with Sam and Diana.

Business was busy off and on. An ebb and flow of thirsty patrons buying iced tea, loose tea from the ‘GREAT WALL’ of metal storage bins, or pots of tea for languishing over with a book, laptop or conversation with friends.

During a quiet spot, Andi took my small packet of Nina’s tea and steeped much of it in a tasting cup gongfu style. She then poured the liquor into a larger sharing cup for group tasting. (We’ve been group tasting for quite some time by sipping from different parts of the rim on a larger bowl style cup)

At first Andi and Diana were convinced the tea was black current tea even when I told them that the flavors were a blend of orange, strawberry and cherry.

It took me some time to think about what I was tasting, because there was a peculiar ‘other’ flavor. Something that reminded me of Greek Mountain Tea. (A sage-like herb flavor that I like but didn’t expect.)

For me, the tea was a cross between orange and peach, with not a hint of strawberry or cherry…and medium body.

I imagine cold brewing would suit the blend best.

Andi was determined to compare Nina’s with Happy Lucky’s Black Current Tea, so she brewed a sample taster side-by-side and the result was interesting.
Nina’s sample smelled milder than the current and had a richer more layered flavor profile. The current was pungent smelling but mild tasting.

Side-by-side tastings are fun to do and are helpful in learning to polish the skills needed for detecting aroma and flavor differences.

I think this is an above average flavored tea, although a little different because of the herb flavor.


ah… i lament. what i wouldn’t give for a great wall of teas. sounds as though you had a lovely time =0)


Just began to rain and I’m off to meet my granddaughter Megan for tea. This weekend is the Rocky Mountain Tea Festival in Boulder at the Dushanbe Tea House. I’m going to hear David Lee Hoffman speak on rare tea’s of China and there’s a tea vendor bazaar. I can’t afford the other classes, but I went to the Oolong and Cooking with Tea last year http://rockymtnteafestival.com/


aw!!!!! i don’t believe we even have such a thing here!!! and my city is the capital of the province. humph.


So cool you are going to hear David Lee Hoffman speak!

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drank Balade a Shanghai by Nina's Paris
673 tasting notes

Thank you to Nina’s for this lovely sample tea!

Many of the friends that I had to leave behind in California when I moved to Colorado are from the Middle East and North Africa. They taught me to make (and love) gunpowder green tea with fresh mint and LOTS of sugar! (I am not exaggerating at all about the sugar!)

One of my favorite memories was sitting with my friend Randa in an Arabic Tea House in San Francisco, sipping mint tea and eating pastries. We talked for hours as our tall teapot of mint leaves was filled and refilled many times with boiling water. The tea tray had a large bowl of sugar on it to suppliment the sweetened tea in the pot.

It was wonderful!

I always grow mint just so that I can recreate that tea experience when the mood is right and the day is hot enough. (The tea is best on a hot day!)

Prepackaged mint tea’s are usually not strong enough. Mint has a way of losing it’s punch when dry.

I decided to brew the tea in my Verdant glass beaker steeper, which holds 7oz water because the leaves are rolled and I wanted to watch the tea expand.
1TB dry tea soon filled the beaker with green leaves and golden tea, which when drained was half filled with expanded leaves.

The golden liquor tasted stronger than I had expected, with mint and slight smokiness from the gunpowder tea.

Right away, I heavily sweetened the tea as my friends do.

Although I much prefer the fresh leaves (and who wouldn’t), this is pretty good. I’ve only had one other mint tea of this kind that had enough body to drink in the traditional manner.

(Now my mind is beginning to wonder about culinary applications…)


Bonnie, when one day you’ll come over Paris to see your nephew, ask him to take you to the tea room of la grande Mosquée de Paris, near le Jardin des Plantes : you’ll get the most wonderful oriental pastries and the mint tea is done of course with fresh mint leaves and sugaaaaaaaar no no not sugar but really sugaaaaaaaar ! fantastic pastries…http://img.over-blog.com/375×500/3/17/91/61/nice/avril10/mosquee.JPG


This makes me excited to try my sample tonight!


Yes Ysaurella! You will have to join us because my Nephew David is very Parisian and very handsome! He’s 35, single and has lived in Paris over 10 years.


Nice photo of the pastries! We have a Turkish Bakery here in Old Town that looks like that with honey cakes, sesame cookies, baklava and so on. YUM!


ok Bonnie now you need to come over Paris to share gazelle ankles and tea with me :) – the mosquee is very near the faculty where I studied so many memories !


This makes me smile!

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Summer Blend 2013 (As opposed to notes from 2012)

I’ve been waiting for the Imperial Breakfast Blend to return for a long time! My addiction was such, that I resorted to creating my own concoction by mixing Laoshan Black Tea and Ginger Sage Winter Spa Blend then adding a few (hoarded) Yanxin’s Reserve Shu Pu’er Nuggets. This was quite delicious but still, not the same as the Imperial Blend.

Last week I entertained my niece and sister-in-law from California. This is their first visit to my home since I became a tea nerd and I AGRESSIVELY forced them to experience ALL of types of tea’s and methods of brewing. THEY HAD NO IDEA (like most people outside of our world) WHAT WE TEA NERDS ARE UP TO! (Poor things!)

(We actually had fun!)

One morning, I set the kettle to boil and prepared a tray with everything needed for a pot of Breakfast Blend. (I hadn’t tried the 2013 blend since it arrived earlier in the week from Verdant)

I explained that when I am reviewing tea, I always taste without adding anything, slurp the tea to spray the flavor on my taste buds. Later on in the tasting, I add some sugar (or Splenda) and milk because I know people do this so I try it out too.

The 2013 blend is sweet from the fruity oolong. I was surprised at how little chocolate or pu’er released on the first steep (not that I disapprove of oolong but I’m an avowed pu’er lover as most people know). I was a little disappointed because the blend seemed thin and one-note.

Pu-er blooms. I knew better than to think that this was the pu-er I was tasting.

There are always hidden surprises with blended tea’s. If you pour one steeping and stop there, it may be that you’ve stopped just short of the big reveal and such a shame it would be.

I poured more water and steep two was a revelation.

Shimmering glints of cinnamon melting into liquid pools of melted pu’er and Zhu Rong reminded me of peaches dipped into pots of dark chocolate fondue. The texture was thicker and richer with the fruit blended into the other tea’s and not the dominating player.

The more you steep this blend, the more there is to like.

I have a habit of steeping pu’er a long time when I want to add milk to it. If you want a strong brew to add sugar and milk or cream to, this holds up very well. Steeping a long time (3-5 minutes) on the 2nd or 3rd steep forward, works! I actually prefer mine strong!

I chose this for my morning tea again today. It’s raining on the Frontrange. You would think that Fall had arrived overnight and a drizzle with tea this comforting couldn’t be more perfect.

Steeping on the second steep 4 minutes, adding sweetening and cream in a mug…ah…yes…

maybe a nap later.

When you live in a semi-arid zone at high altitude, rain is precious. My phone bleeps out flash-flood warnings because the rain comes down so fast and hard as though a pitcher has been upturned in the heavens…and then it’s over. Quickly.
The rare drizzle day with light rain is cause for celebration with tea. Through the year from September until June (10 months) there isn’t any rain (usually only July has monsoons).

Sitting with what the earth gives in rain and tea is cause for gratitude and joy. I know the hand that holds these energies.


Love your review of this…the earth, the rain, gratitude, energy…meaningful!
And the big reveal, so true!
We are quite a species, us tea lover, aren’t we?


Yes we are! A peculiar people!

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Colorado Grandma
Grandmother to 3 teenaged girls and 5 young boys. (we all drink tea!) I began teatime in the Summer over 30 years ago when my children were little. We took a break from play for tea and snacks every day. My children loved tea time.
There are several tea houses close to my home and a Tea Festival in Boulder. Fort Collins is a bit of a foodie town. We brew lots of Beer (Fat Tire is one brand) and have several Spice Shops (Savory was one featured on Food Network).
Colorado State University is a mile from my home and the Rocky Mountains begin to climb at the end of my street. The climate is semi-arid with LOTS OF SUN AT 5000 feet. (Heavy Winter snows start in higher elevations). Living my whole life in Northern California (Silicon Valley) I have to admit that I LOVE IT HERE!!!
I attend a wonderful Greek Orthodox Church and enjoy cooking ethnic foods (all kinds). I am disabled with Migraines and Fibromyalgia.
My family is Bi-racial (African-American, Scots) and Bi-cultural, (Peru, Cyprus, France, Mexico, Native American)
I’ve worked at a Winery, was a System Analyst, in telecom, been an Athlete and Coach, Artist, Vista Volunteer. Love healthy cooking (and delicious food!). Love to travel and have been to Italy, Greece, Turkey, Malta, Peru, Croatia, Canada, Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska


Fort Collins,Colorado



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