Design a Tea

Recent Tasting Notes

This was the last of my Design a Tea samples. It smelled really awful – like cough medicine. Luckily it didn’t taste like it smelled. It was merely bland with a faint chemical aftertaste. Blech. This was not a winner. I think in the end, while I love the idea of Design a Tea, I’m not very impressed with the samples I tried, so I probably won’t put in an order with them anytime soon.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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I wouldn’t have picked this tea for myself, since I haven’t liked any of the almond flavored teas I’ve tried before, and I’m not a big fan of red rooibos. But Design a Tea added it to my order, so I gave it a try. I was pleasantly surprised. The almond was much less cloying than others I’ve tried, and wasn’t paired with a bitter black base, so I could taste it on its own. I actually rather liked it. It was nutty and faintly sweet. I couldn’t taste the rooibos or chamomile at all, but I don’t mind that since the almond flavor is quite appealing on it’s own.

Flavors: Almond, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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79
drank Mocha Pecan Black by Design a Tea
2515 tasting notes

Thanks to Sil for a sample of this blend (and it looks like some thanking applies to Dexter as well, who appears to have been the original source of this deliciousness).

Anyhow, brewing this up as one of only a couple flavoured teas I have on the go tonight, ALL I could smell was its delicious aroma. OM NOM. If I had to guess, I’d guess Hazelnut Mocha, I think, by the aroma. Flavourwise, it is pretty impressive too. Quite decadent and lovely, very nutty (again, I’d guess hazelnut), and a bit chocolatey. Not really picking up coffee, but that’s not a problem whatsoever. Also not really tasting too much in the way of the base tea – I wish it was a bit more solid, because it does come off slightly watery in that sense, but the flavourings are nearly good enough to overcome that. I think, though, that for me to really love this tea, it would need a base change. I might try infusing the last bit of the tea that I have a bit longer (I’m always very cautious with black blends since I hate astringency) to see if it helps the base at all. Flavouring-wise, though, this is a solid 90 tea.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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This has a pleasant scent, but is rather bland. Just a faint, artificial peach flavor. I can’t taste the blueberry at all.

Flavors: Peach

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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74

Sipdown (115)!

Thanks Marizipan for the sample! I saved this one to drink on Halloween ‘cause it seemed so perfectly suited to the holiday! When I made it, I added just a bit of milk ’cause I expected it to be rather spicy and I thought that’s help tone things down a notch.

I was quite happy, ‘cause when I took my first sips I was flooded with this beautiful, thick clove flavour! Man, I love cloves and this was so heavy on that! Best surprise ever. And then, that milk added a nice richness and thickness to this so even though I mostly was only getting that one flavour it still felt like a very “full” tea. I’m curious though; why is the pumpkin is angry? If I tasted like cloves, I’d be a very happy pumpkin…

Flavors: Clove

aisling of tea

I loooooove cloves. I always buy that clove gum whenever I find it and when I smoked, clove cigarettes were my favorite.

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This was a bonus sample I got when I ordered 5 samples for $5 from Design a Tea. I think it was because I put in Steepster as a referral? Anyway.

I am really confused by this one… It says “Strawberry Caramel” on the front. For some reason, my sample has lavender in it. And lavender isn’t even on the list of ingredients… Not to mention, it doesn’t fit with these flavors and makes this cup taste like I’m sucking on a medicated strawberry-flavored lozenge…

So confused… And unhappy. I guess I won’t rate this since apparently I got some weird crazy lavender batch?

Flavors: Candy, Lavender, Medicinal, Soap, Strawberry, Sweet

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML
Cheri

that doesn’t sound strawberry caramel at all. :(

carol who

Yikes! That doesn’t sound good.

Cameron B.

It was a twilight zone moment… The strawberry and caramel were there, too bad that lavender was soaping it up all over them. :(

Mikumofu

I didn’t get lavender in my sample of this…must be some kind of mix-up. I also got a mislabeled tea when I ordered last time…

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I’ve decided to brew Rooibos teas for 3 rather than 5 minutes to avoid the smokey/medicinal flavor they are prone to. It was definitely a success with this tea. The coconut flavor was prominent and relatively natural tasting, with a secondary sweet flavor that seemed to be a blend of pineapple and honey. I was drinking this while making dinner, and I did notice that as it cooled, the coconut flavor began tasting more buttery, and the pineapple/honey flavor began tasting rather artificial, so this is definitely one to drink hot. Overall, a very pleasant tea, though.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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82
drank Amaretto Cherry by Design a Tea
148 tasting notes

Looks like there’s an entry for the oolong version of this tea, but not the black one yet. Anyway, this was pretty good. The cherry flavor was fresh and natural-seeming, and the amaretto was definitely authentic, though more subtle. There is just enough tartness to be interesting. It’s one of these combinations that can never go wrong. The tea base was also nicely smooth in this one, and more like how I had remembered the first sample being. The finish was slightly acerbic/dry, but not enough to be offputting.

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78
drank Pear Cider Green by Design a Tea
148 tasting notes

Okay, so this one is a bit of a conundrum. I ordered pear cider, the invoice I received says pear cider, but the handwritten slip says rum cider. However, it tastes more pear than rum, so I’ll say that they got the order right. :)

This one is a very gentle tea, with a mellow, Japanese-styled green tea base. The fruit flavors are quite juicy without being too sweet. What impresses me is that there’s an almost effervescent quality to it, that touch of bubbly sugary spice that really does remind me of cider. I’m a little conflicted on the best preparation for this—it seems like a good cozy tea to serve warm, but in my experience fruity greens are best enjoyed cold. Regardless, it was a rather unique and fun tea.

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72

Looks like I designed a tea that was already in the system for once! This one smelled a little confusing—sweet, but hard to differentiate the ingredients. The tea itself is quite robust. I’m probably imagining things, but the black tea base seems different this time; maybe this one came from a stronger batch, or I had oversteeped it. In any case, it wasn’t as crisp as the previous black tea I had tried from them.

The pomegranate flavor is quite nice, just a little tart without being overly so. The vanilla is not prominent, but adds some sweetness. The lingering taste of these flavors is very delicate, much more so than the brew itself. Overall, it was fairly enjoyable, but probably not a reorder.

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84
drank Ice Wine Tea by Design a Tea
297 tasting notes

Oooo that is good. Definitely a wine type of tea. Great flavor. Its good warm and i have a feeling it will be even better cold.

Preparation
1 tsp

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65

Another custom sample from Design-a-Tea. Unfortunately I don’t have as much of a rave review for this one as I did for the previous, the reason being that it’s way too tart. The tartness made it seem as if there was hibiscus in the mix, and I did find a magenta-red piece of something in the tea sachet that ended up bleeding a lot of bright color into the cup toward the end. Not really what I was looking for in this blend. The oolong tea base is just ok, slightly bitter at first, but without any real presence or oolong-like qualities.

On the plus side, the peach and apricot flavors aren’t bad, and are quite fresh. The apricot is stronger, while the peach is mellow and rather creamy. Most of my other samples are black teas, so hopefully they will be better.

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84

A fruity black tea that I can find no fault with? Could it be?

I received this as the “extra” in my order of 5 samples from Design a Tea. The aroma is quite lovely—rich caramel and strawberry, not cloying or artificial as these flavors can sometimes be. The caramel isn’t too strong in the brewed tea; while overall it reminds me of Lupicia’s caramel tea, I think this one is more balanced and less overwhelming.

While I only had one sachet, I divided the brew and iced half of it. The iced version is more impressive—the tea base is very good and crisp, and seems like Ceylon. Perfect for summer with just that touch of fresh strawberry (and it still feels like summer here!) The hot version is more creamy and sweet, less distinguished than the cold but still enjoyable. Too often the tea itself is not great in these types of blends, and tastes downright messy when the other ingredients are blended out of proportion. This one is an exception to the rule, and even defies my expectation that appetizing aroma is inversely proportional to taste. I hope the rest of the samples are of this quality as well!

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82

Tea of the morning. I received me Design-a- Tea order a couple of days ago, and they were kind enough to add some samples to my box. This one is coconut rum, and while it probably would have been best to save this for an afternoon tea I’ve been craving coconut lately, so I went ahead and steep it. The rum flavor is pretty strong. It’s fairly equal to the coconut flavor, but because rum is such a strong flavor it seems to dominate at times. As the tea cools a bit the coconut steps to the front more. This I like. The flavors are great. and the base tea is smooth and not astringent. I’m thinking this would be outstanding cold brewed. I’d also be tempted to make a tea cocktail with this one. It has lots of possibilities.

September Sipdowns: 16

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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This tasted quite good. It was spicy and almost creamy, with a hint of pumpkin. The flavors offset the Rooibos quite well. It would probably be even better if I used Honeybush as a base.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Cream, Pumpkin, Rooibos, Spices

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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When I started seeing all the positive reviews for Design a Tea, I decided I had to check it out. The variety of flavors really appealed to me since I can drink so few teas right now due to pregnancy heartburn. I’m not actually a huge fan of Red Rooibos, but it was the only tea without caffeine available as a sample, so I decided to go ahead and give it a shot. This one was alright. The rooibos is smokey, but not too bad. The flavor doesn’t really stand out, but it adds a pleasant faintly apple-flavored sweetness that helps balance the smokiness of the rooibos. I want to try a few more of my samples before I decide for sure, but I’ll probably try some of their Green Rooibos or Honeybush at some point.

Flavors: Apple, Smoke, Sweet, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Sipdown (117/124)!

And this is the last Design A Tea blend! It’s been really cool making my own blends and trying them all out – if you’ve yet to do it, I really recommend trying it! Besides, with all five blends I chose they did an excellent job with making the flavours I picked not only stand out but actually very accurate to the flavour.

And of course this is no exception; in fact I think the only time I’ve come across a better Pecan flavour in a tea is with Butiki’s Maple Pecan Oolong. But this was just exemplary, there was a super, super rich pecan flavour with all the sweetness of maple and brown sugar; kinda like the innards of a Maple Pecan Pie. Just honestly so indulgent and dessert-like – and also really filling.

And then there’s the plum; it wasn’t as strong as the pecan (especially as the tea cooled; the pecan sorta took over at that point) but it was present and really accurate; and the two mixed together really well. The plum tasted very natural and ripe; not candy like but sweet and that married quite nicely with the rich dessert-like Pecan.

So yeah, this was definitely another success.

And here’s what I learned overall from the 5 blends I made: I really like the black base they’re using, and I would probably want to explore more combinations with Cranberries/Pecan if I were to do this again. Also, usually one of the two flavours is more dominant – but in every blend I made both were still present.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Maple, Pecan, Plums

rosebudmelissa

This sounds so delicious!

I’ve been hearing so many good things about Design A Tea on Steepster, that I ordered some samples yesterday. All Rooibos, since I’m pregnant, which may not be the best choice since I don’t always like Rooibos blends, but I’m still excited. And I see they have Green Rooibos and Honeybush in another section, which I do tend to like much better. Anyway, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my blends turn out as well as everyone elses.

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77

Sipdown (118/125)!

Woot! Look at those numbers drop! Hooray!

But anyway; breakfast tea! And when I say breakfast, I mean that for once I actually drank a tea and consumed a meal at a normal time accurate for meal it’s named for. Shocking, really.

Anyway; I’m almost through my Design A Tea samples. This is the second last one; but I’m gonna finish them off today. This is the only one I picked with an oolong base; and I just went with something safe for it: Pineapple and Coconut which is pretty much just my favourite flavour combination of all time. So it’s kinda 50/50 between having high expectations for the blend, but also knowing without much of a doubt that I’ll enjoy it regardless.

Dry, the pineapple in this smells so strong and intoxicating. You can smell the coconut, but the lush fruit does a pretty damn good job of masking it. Om nom nom, pineapples! And steeped up, this was actually really impressive. The pineapple was really vibrant, juicy and lush and reminded me a lot of the pineapple flavouring in Red Leaf Tea’s Pineapple Matcha (which I find to be very distinct from other pineapple flavourings – such as Butiki’s which has sorta the natural acidic tang to it or DAVIDsTEA’s which is more subtle and candy-like). The coconut was very buttery and tropical and it really complimented the buttery, greener oolong base.

I drank most of this hot, but I let the last few sips go cold and it was probably just as good cold as it was hot; though I thought the coconut and oolong base were more noticeable in the cold tea.

So while this wasn’t exactly a unique or out of the box flavour combination, I think it was a successful one! Definitely quite enjoyable!

Cameron B.

Oh, it’s a green oolong? I didn’t expect that. :P

Roswell Strange

The samples come in little tea bags/satchets (just like this use at cafes or some tea shops for to go teas) – I probably could have taken the tea out to look at it beforehand, but I didn’t. I just picked apart the bag now though, and visually it doesn’t look like a green oolong – although that’s definitely what it tasted like to me.

Cameron B.

That’s interesting. I’m glad you tried it first because now I can keep that in mind when I design my teas later. :P Thanks for taking one for the team! ;)

Dexter

The “oolong” in the generic drop down choice is a Formosa (higher oxidized) but they also have a greener Ti Kuan Yin available… if that helps.
http://www.designatea.com/products.php?cat=13

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67

Sipdown (120/127)!

Look at all the sipdown progress! Which is good, because Camellia Sinensis finally restock Le Tropicale so I put in the order I’ve been wanting to make for the last two months! And it’s a small enough order too; three teas. But it feels good to have an actual order in coming, even if all the teas are new to me and in 50g quantities. I know that if I dislike anything there are plenty of people here to share with.

As for this blend (which is the last one in my queue btdubbs) it was really interesting! I honestly anticipated not liking but I was intrigued by the idea of a grapefruit tea (I don’t think I’ve had one or, at the very least not a memorable one) and I remembered 52Tea’s Brown Sugar Grapefruit Shou Mei so I tried pairing something relatively similar. Sorry Frank; I ripped off your brain child on this one.

Anyway; it was good – at first. It was strongly and specifically grapefruit but without a lot of bitterness or tartness to it. I think that’s what the maple really contributed: it sweetened the whole thing up and kept things upbeat. On the whole I was reminded of breakfast? Well, not my take on breakfast because for me that’s usually microwaved pizza hastily eaten before running out the door for work. But like, rich people/movie breakfast where someone brings you a platter of fresh squeezed grapefruit juice in bed with a fat stack of maple waffles and sausage links accompanying it. Not my kind of breakfast; but kinda idealistic and nice.

Except then the cup cooled and it started to taste really funky. The grapefruit just kind of built up in my mouth and tasted spoiled – like someone had left out that “perfect breakfast” for a couple of days and I was picking at the leftovers. Ew.

So I don’t know if this is a success or not. It was very on point at first, but then it turned bad. I guess on the whole it was better than I thought it’d be, though. I suppose I just have to say to drink this one hot? Anyway, I’m rating a little conservatively because of the latter half of the mug. But seriously; when this was good, it was good.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Citrus, Grapefruit, Maple, Maple Syrup

Tealizzy

Haha! I love your notes! :)

Cheri

Who has time for breakfast? Even when I have time, I seem to reheat leftovers or something. (Today it was leftover fajitas for breakfast, just the chicken, pepper and onions, with some cheese, because I was way too lazy to deal with anything more than that.)

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79

Sipdown (123/130)!

You can never have too much pear tea; and caramel pear? Hot damn I’m all up for that! So of course I had to include this as one of my five blends, and because I actually like rooibos that’s the base I chose because I thought it’d compliment the caramel and I’ve had other successful pear rooibos blends before.

This one was sweet but not over the top. Both the pear and caramel flavours were really present, but I think the pear just slightly more so. It came off as a just slightly overripe pear in flavour the same way the RiverTea’s Sweet Helen did but I think this worked a little better for me because it had the caramel to sweeten it and the rooibos to act as a little more of an “anchor” and add another layer to the flavour so it wasn’t just overripe pears.

This is another one that I’m going to call a success, though I’m confidant that there are much better caramel/pear blends out there. Still it was enjoyable and struck all the right cords while I was drinking it!

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77

Sipdown (124/131)!

So this was an extra sample added in to the set of teas I made for myself! That’s really cool that they added in something extra and, just based on what it was, I feel like they really took a look at the flavours I had used in my samples and tried to pick something I’d like.

Steeped up, this had the same smooth but in the background black base as my Cranberry Rum blend did, but differently the Rum in this blend was much stronger and in your face as was the coconut which equaled the rum in intensity. That made for a very flavourful and aromatic cup enriched by sweet, supple fruit notes. Whether they were strongly apricot is a little harder to pinpoint. I’d say I was reminded of a cross between Tim Horton’s Peach Juice and Apricot Jam. It worked though, and kept things fun and tasty.

However I have to say that if and when I need an Apricot fix I am likely going to turn to Tea Desire’s White Angel which, like this blend, has a lot of rich creamy coconut in addition to a more flavourful apricot – just TD’s kinda showcases the coconut and apricot flavours more equally. Which is a good thing.

Still this was an enjoyable extra sample! Definitely worth trying.

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81

Sipdown (125/132)!

So my Design a Tea samples (plus extra sample) arrived on Thursday when I was home sick. Of course I was very excited to try them all but I patiently waited until late in the day when I was feeling much better before I steeped a few up. Since this was the first I “designed” it was the one I started with.

There was probably more “specific” thought behind this one than all the others if I’m being honest, and that was that I’d already tried a Design A Tea blend with Cranberry in it and I had really enjoyed that aspect of the tea so I thought I’d do another as a “safer” gamble. I don’t know why I picked Rum to pair with it – I just thought the two would work. And really, it definitely did.

The black base was very smooth and hid in the background well enough to let the flavours I had chosen really shine; and I appreciate that. While I did choose the black base, I am ultimately most interested in seeing how my selected flavours combine.

The cranberry was definitely a much more dominant flavour than the rum and it stood out loudly as very ripe, sweet and juicy. That’s not to say that the rum wasn’t present though; I think it just came off as lighter overall because it was sweetening up the cranberry and keeping it from getting to be very tart.

On the whole; this was really enjoyable and for whatever reason brought forth strong connections to Christmas and “Christmas Dinner”. I am going to proclaim this first combination as a delightful success!

Flavors: Cranberry, Rum, Vanilla

Cameron B.

Totally bookmarking the 5 samples for $5 page for when I’m off hiatus. I assume their base teas aren’t great but it still seems like a fun idea. :D

Roswell Strange

I still haven’t tried my oolong sample, but having had both the black base and rooibos base I can say that while they’re certainly not high quality bases they’re not awful tasting either; they really sorta disappear into the background and become forgettable, if that makes sense.

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76

Sipdown (133/140)!

Thank you Dexter for the thoughtful add in that you sent to me a while back. Dex passed it along to me because I like cranberry tea, which was definitely very thoughtful or her. I’ll be honest though, I put it off because of the sage. I wasn’t sure whether I’d like it. In fact, you can thank my roommate Tre for getting me to make it; I was trying to pick a tea to cold brew last night and was reading out the names of things in my sipdown/sample drawer – and this is the one that stood out to him. He said it sounded like it’d be good as iced tea.

I’ve been drinking it while browsing online, and it really isn’t so bad. I’m not really sure what I was so scared of. The cranberry is present but not overtly tart, which is something I’ve noticed to be true with the majority of cranberry tea I’ve had. It’s odd; I don’t like the actual fruit – I wont eat straight up cranberries, but in tea? Mmm!

As for the sage, which is what I was most worried about anyway, it is definitely noticeable and it’s kinda weird but overall a good weird that compliments the cranberry and adds more depth, and an earthiness. Lastly, the chestnut. I had to really think about it; and I don’t think I’ve ever had chestnut anything before – so I don’t know what exactly I’m looking for. Google tells me a chestnut is a dry, potato like tasting nut; I’m not so much getting that from this…

On the whole; a very drinkable and enjoyable cold brew. Do I feel a need to get more of it? No, but I’m really glad I tried it and didn’t let myself get so weirded out by the sage or other unfamiliar things in this.

Also I want to share more links with you all! These ones are at least a little tea related though! You all should check out this super neat ceramic artist!

https://www.facebook.com/SeramegElunedGlynCeramics/info

http://www.elunedglyn.com/#!shop—cart/c1eu7

I really wish I could pronounce her name! But yeah, her jewelry is cool, but the slip casted tea ware is where it’s REALLY at! As an artist specializing in sculpture/clay work I am especially fascinated by the process she takes to get to a finish pieced. I’m so proud of myself right now because of my great understanding of her process; well, the physical “doing” part of her process. Every artist has their own process in other regards. I’ve done slip casting before (but I did a series of Rubber Ducks) and it’s an incredibly neat thing, and it takes a lot of time and patience to make your own slip moulds. I just… Wow.

I don’t think her work is usable (like, you couldn’t actually drink from them) but I don’t know for sure; I don’t see a FAQ on either site. I guess ultimately it’d depend on what glaze she used and if it’s food safe glaze. Either way you probably wouldn’t want to dishwash them; it’d be gently handwashing, all the way.

I really want to buy a teacup/saucer set – but I don’t know if she ships to Canada. I don’t see anything saying she doesn’t, but the price/shipping seem too low for that to be a thing.

Oh, for reference, her are some picks of my slip mould rubber ducks!

http://guyfierithirdandfinalantichrist.tumblr.com/post/93545952223

Flavors: Berries, Cranberry, Earth, Herbs, Sage

Roswell Strange

And I just put in an order with DaT for their five samples thing. I picked some things that seemed safe, and some things that just seemed weird. Eeei!

Cheri

The duck looks great!

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