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Design a Tea

Recent Tasting Notes


thanks so much Dexter3657! I was craving blueberry but I thought I’d go with this one. It’s not bad! Sweet strawberry flavor on a decent rooibos that isn’t bothering my throat. There is a hint of cream with the strawberry (not exactly sure what the zabaglione is anyway). I swear I could have had a tea like this the other day, but I’m not sure which one (maybe 52Teas Strawberry Pie honeybush?). So many teas! It’s nice as it cools too. I like it!
Steep #1 // a few minutes after boiling // 3-4 min steep

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Another fruity tea for the morning. This one has a white base and the scent reminds me of when I bake coconut loaf.

The flavours are quite delicate and the scent of coconut loaf seems to come through, but it’s not distinctly coconut. I’m not really getting anything in the way of pomegranate, but this is a tasty cup.

Thanks Dexter3657!

P.S. This is a sample sipdown.

180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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drank Green Chai by Design a Tea
45 tasting notes

I was expecting something completely different from what I got, but I wasn’t disappointed!

I’m usually only OK with chai teas, with the exception of a few chais tend to be a bit overwhelming for me. I was making an order already at DesignATea and this is one of their signature blends. So I’m thinking ‘hmm… not as strong, green tea probably means subtly sweet and light… YES!’

The small sachet is SMALL, only 1.1oz, but a few teaspoons was all I needed. The presentation is plain, and purely functional. It’s a transparent plastic baggie with a cardstock sleeve printed with the label. After receiving most if not all my teas from online vendors in those nice foil lined ziplocks, I was a little surprised. I’ll have to keep these in a box or in the cabinet to keep away from light.

The green tea was rolled/curled in dry form, and unfurled in just one steep. The leaves were chopped, but tinged brown on the edges? Roasted perhaps? I don’t know. All the chai spices had settled to the bottom of the baggie. I had heard of other teas settling, but I could actually see the effects of it here with the transparent bag. I shook it up, but the bag is small, and doesn’t leave much room for shaking. I don’t know if I got an even distribution.

The flavor and mouthfeel is so different from what I expected. I expected a nice smooth sweet green with a small hit of chai aroma. What I got was… even made with water! it tasted/felt like a milk-based chai, but made with matcha! I can’t even express how awesome that is because it is entirely unexpected. It reminded me of when I was in college and I got chai lattes from the library cafe all the time. Creamy, lightly heavy mouth texture, with a chai spice. The green wasn’t bright as I was expecting, but a little smokey.

I completely oversteeped the second steeping. I put the water in…. and forgot about it. I found it this morning. Even cold it has that slightly heavy feel in the mouth I usually get from dairy. It was only a touch bitter, but nothing that detracts too much away from how much I like it. I wouldn’t cold steep this, there’s not that much of it, but I don’t mind it cold.

I really do like it. Too bad I don’t drink chai teas as much nowadays, if I did, I could see this being brewed daily.

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drank PeacaMint by Design a Tea
45 tasting notes

Yum. Yay for getting more bedtime teas for me. I’m kind of backwards in that most of my tea drinking happens in the later hours of the day, but I didn’t have many non-caffeinated options.

Brian was soo nice and agreed to substitute honeybush for roobios in the things that I ordered. Even though the company specializes in custom blends, it made me feel extra special. This is one of their signature blends, but they were still able to substitute the base for me, talk about freshly blended!

This tea is lovely. The dry ‘leaf’ is honeybush (which looks like tiny wood chips) and what looks like very finely chopped mint. The green stuff is very vibrant either way and makes the blend look cheerful. The scent of the dry stuff is very warm and not too minty.

The first brew IS kind of minty, but I let it brew for a long time. The pecan flavor was a little like whole roasted pecans with the mintyness and the honeybush was there but it wasn’t overbearing or annoying or medicinal like rooibos.

The second steep is awesome. The mint is tamed a bit, and the pecan is just right, it makes the tea just lovely and warm and soft. Which sounds like a blanket, but it was just a really comforting tea. The mouthfeel was great too, but if you let it cool the after feel is a little bit dry/tight.

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My weird design from Design a Tea. Blackcurrant Hazelnut Green . I think the Hazelnut is a bit more prominent than the blackcurrant although I am picking up both. I think this tea would be better as either Blackcurrant Green or Blackcurrant x2 Green. Thank you Design a tea for allowing me to design my own. Lots of fun! I will keep the little paper that came with the sample to record my own notes for future designs.

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drank Island Blend by Design a Tea
1172 tasting notes

Oh hey, this is pretty good! Thanks for sharing, MissB!

It’s vanilla-fruit green tea. I was hesitant because I don’t often reach for green teas, but I really like the flavours. It probably won’t give me quite the caffeine kick I’m looking for, but it’s really nice at brunch. :)

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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This was a sample included with my last Design a Tea order.

It’s REALLY good – apricot and blueberry – it’s yummy.

That’s all I really have to say. Yummy…..

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The dry leaf of this sample was quite broken up, but the basil was visible against the lighter white tea and I saw pieces of lemon rind and fruit. The sent is of slightly sweetened lemon and basil. The basil is more savoury and less spicy smelling than Tulsi (Holy Basil). The white tea and lemon combine in flavour to sweeten and emphasise each other. The tea provides a certain thickness and sweetness to the tea. The basil is quite present but is not quite as strong as I thought it might be considering the amount of it in the dry leaf. It provides a hint of me nt and licorice and savoury spice. The blackcurrant is present but buried in the background. A pleasant cup that tastes more of its herbal elements than others. Thanks Dexter3657 for the sample!

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I picked this one out since it’s down to the last little bit of it and i didn’t want the tea to get any more crushed than it kind of already was. Plus, i’m game for trying things i don’t always love…that’s part of the fun of a TTB (wait till you see what i’m going to drink later…willingly…heh)

I’m not getting a lot of blackberry out of this one, but i can taste the basil and it’s an interesting addition to the tea. White’s aren’t usually my thing, but in this cup it’s actually a good pairing with the basiland lemon. I just wish the blackberry was a little more present :)


What an unusual mix. Sounds like a sauce for poultry.

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drank Angry Pumpkin Tea by Design a Tea
951 tasting notes

Like Dexter3657, who gave this sample to me, I only get clove and cardamom out of this – zero pumpkin. Too bad, because it had potential for a lovely chai-like pumpkin tea! It’s still drinkable, just less so than the cup of amazingness (Indian Nimbu) next to it.

1.5 tsp in 12 oz.

Flavors: Cloves

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

Maybe angry pumpkins don’t taste like much… lol

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drank Island Blend by Design a Tea
951 tasting notes

A solid sencha, if a bit on the bitter side for me. Did I steep it too long, ever-so-slightly? Hm. Perhaps. I’m getting little mango – perhaps due to the overly mango tea I had earlier today, which may skew my tasting – and only a faint creaminess. The bitterness is what’s most apparent, sadly.

This is the first time I’ve ordered from Design-A-Tea, and I was impressed with how quickly it got to me. Sadly however, all of the samples I also ordered somehow got mixed up in the process, and I only got this tea. I’ll have to try again soon, and make sure that the samples go through.

2 tsp in 12 oz.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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drank Madame Red by Design a Tea
269 tasting notes

This is the last of the tea bags, and a tea that my friends designed themselves. It feels right to have saved it for last.

The rooibos is what I primarily taste here. It’s a little sweet, and I think there’s something else there too, giving it just a hint of an aftertaste, but whether I’d get it after looking at an ingredient list, or if it’s just too weak for me to get here (again, these teabags are not the best size for flavour profiles, sadly) I just can’t place it.

Still, not bad. Could be better, but not bad.

Boiling 5 min, 15 sec

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Enjoying this just as much as the first time, and I’m really glad Dexter3657 shared some with me. I like it better hot to be frank, however cold it’s still a strongly maple and nut blend, with some creaminess and sweetness in there to boot.

Flavors: Cream, Nuts

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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Gong Xi Fa Cai everyone! The Year of the Wood Horse has started and there is a nice dusting of snow on the ground with the weather predicting more. I have been jealous all winter of my mother on the East Coast getting lots of snow while we have only received a small amount. Snow really is the only redeeming quality of winter!

Today’s tea on this final day of Design a Tea week has nothing to do with New Years, but it does evoke winter. When I was but a wee thing my favorite ice cream and candy treat was Chocolate Mint, the cooling quality always reminds me of winter time, so it was my Southern way of simulating snow in my mouth. Chocolate Mint with a base of Black Tea has a rich aroma, quite a lot of chocolate and a hint of mint. The aroma is very evocative of candy! Luckily the mint is balanced, a frequent problem with minty things is being overpowered by the mint, so kudos to this blend for taming its mint.

Once the leaves take a dip in their sauna you can start to detect the aroma of the base tea and not just the sweet chocolate and cool mint. The black tea has the aroma of earthiness and oak wood which blends quite well with the chocolate’s richness. The liquid sans plant matter is quite sweet blending mint, chocolate, and rich malt.

Tasting time! The taste is smooth with balanced mint and chocolate. There is an underlying hint of earthiness that lurks beneath the chocolate and mint. The tea is fairly sweet and leaves the mouth feeling cool and refreshed. The tea does not really need sugar and cream, but if you want a really dessert like treat, it will turn your cup of tea into a bowl of melted ice cream. The final verdict: Design a Tea makes good blends! I strongly suggest ordering loose tea if you give them a try since there was a significant difference between loose and teabag (as to be expected).

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/01/design-tea-chocolate-mint-black-tea.html

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So I have decided to start a new and exciting project, I am creating a list of all the teas! Not all the teas by every vendor and such, that would take a lifetime, but a personal ‘master list’ of teas, their names (and all permutations, in various languages and dialects) and where they are from. That way I won’t have any more ‘oh Pouchong and Baozhong are the same tea’ moments, because I will have a list!

Welcome to day four of Design a Tea week, today we are looking at Apricot Caramel Rooibos. I have a really iffy track record with Rooibos, or more likely I have a really iffy track record with flavored Rooibos. The aroma is tart and woody with apricot notes and a bit of caramels sweetness. It is a good balance of sweet and fruity tart, I am not running in fear from the imminent salivary pain like I do with some tart teas.

Steeping the tisane just reminds me that I really need a steeping basket with a finer mesh for Rooibos, but at least I get to read the tea leaves…wait, does it still count with an herbal? The aroma is not at all tart, just sweet apricots (specifically dried apricots) and caramel sweetness, with a woody, earthy undertone. Sniffing the liquid, well, I found the tart. It is not overwhelmingly tart, but just like with some apricots, the tartness is present along with a hint of caramel and the expected Rooibos woodiness.

As expected, this tea tastes a bit tart, but it slides just under my ‘too much’ scale, so I do not find myself balking at drinking it. The taste is woody and the mouthfeel dry, typical of a Rooibos, with notes of caramel candy sweetness. The taste of apricots seem to float through the entire mouth, from beginning to aftertaste. This tea did not ‘wow’ me, but I am really finicky with fruit tea (turns out I am actually really finicky with fruit in general) but this is definitely a tea I can see people really enjoying.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/01/design-tea-apricot-caramel-rooibos.html


Have fun with your new project :-)

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So very glad that I’m having more of this tonight! Holy moly, what a different steep does to this tea.

I’m getting maple, I’m getting creamy, I’m getting pecan, I’m getting sweet. It’s really fantastic – so much so that my 6-year-old took a sip, and asked if he could “have as many sips as I want”. I said no, because it is caffeinated, and made him some of Tea Desire’s Sweet Toffee (rooibos) instead. He says it’s “ahhh.. makes me feel better – tea”.

Anyway. This is delicious! Upping the rating significantly.

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec

Sounds delish!


That’s so cute!


OMG I suck! I forgot to thank Dexter3657 for this, as she sent it to me in a swap a while back. Bad me!

Also, it makes me want to peruse Design a Tea more; the concept of creating my own tea blends just plain rocks.


As soon as I see “design a tea” I think Dexter. :)


I haven’t loved all the teas I got from them, but it’s hard to blame them when you choose what’s in it. Brian is just amazing, helpful, funny – great guy to work with. If you are at all interested in playing “mad scientist” this is a fun company to do it with. (It’s also really inexpensive – bonus!!)


That’s awesome Dexter – have you ordered full size blends, or just the sample?


I’ve ordered from them twice, both times I got full sized blends (and some samples the first time). The first time I stayed pretty conservative – regular base plus two flavors -off the main design page. The second time I dug way deep into the site and choose some of the specialty bases and added all kinds of stuff. Brian is great – just because your “dream” doesn’t fit into the drop down boxes doesn’t mean you can’t get it. I wrote almost a full page of “special instructions” and I got everything I asked for – no problems at all – fun emails from Brian to clarify. Great experience.

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Today starts my annual tradition of getting ready for New Year, the Spring Festival (although it doesn’t feel anything like spring) with cleaning and decorating. One should never clean or sweep on the first day of the New Year because you might sweep away all your good fortune, and no one wants that. Shrines will be cleaned, oranges and other auspicious symbols will be set out, and gods need to be sent to the Jade Emperor. It is a crazy, busy time and probably my favorite time of the year. I will of course have lots of tea to celebrate!

Today’s tea is Irish Cream Spice Black Tea by Design a Tea, blending Irish Cream and Spices with a base of blended black teas from Sri Lanka. Yes dear tea friends, it is another boozy tea, I like things that taste like booze without the wibbly-wobbly effect of drinking. The aroma is spicy and richly creamy, with a slight hint of baking bread. Notes of cinnamon and almond waft up from the leaves, it is quite mouthwatering. I do not really smell the alcohol aroma of Irish Cream, instead I smell sweet cream, which is interesting though not entirely what I expected.

Once the leaves have steeped and are lounging after their agony (traditional term, I swear) the aroma is quite sweet and very rich! The spices are well balanced and there is a strong creamy note, it reminds me of sniffing a chai made with cream rather than milk (the way I like it…mmm, milkfat) with undertones of roasted nuts and oak wood. The liquid is intensely creamy, with notes of spices and nuttiness. In all honesty you could have blindfolded me and told me it was just spiced cream and I probably would have believed you.

First sip is quite creamy and spicy, a hint of oakwood and quite brisk, not as sweet as I was expecting so that means I am going to add sugar, ok and cream too. As expected adding the cream turned it into a decadent treat, a creamy tasting tea with added cream thickness…oh my goodness that is intense! The flavor is bold and rich, it manages to be smooth while retaining its briskness. I do wish that it had a bit more of the whiskey taste that you get from Irish Cream, but the richness does make up for its lacking.

For photos and blog: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/01/design-tea-irish-cream-spice-black-tea.html

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I discovered something new and fun today, Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!! a crazy fun Japanese variety show. Specifically the Kiki Series where the guys have to taste something blindfolded then select what it was they tasted, as you can imagine the episodes about tea are my favorite. I wonder how I would fair on a show like this…would I win 100,000 yen or would I be slapped by a foreigner? Sadly these questions cannot be answered here and now, so we will move on to the tea.

Today is day two of Design a Tea week, and we are moving on to an Oolong. An Oolong flavored with Blueberries and Rum, fun fact I really like the taste of rum but rarely get to enjoy it (my insides are complete teetotalers,) so anytime it is a flavor in something I get quite excited. The aroma is quite delectable, lots of sweet blueberry (not the tart blueberry, which as you might know, I am not a big fan of) and a hint of rum. The aroma is surprisingly sweet with an underlying woodsy quality that fades to earthiness.

After giving the tea leaves a bath the aroma becomes quite warm and creamy, like blueberry pie with a side of rich, dark, rum. There is an undertone of oakiness that pervades the entire sniffing experience. The liquid on its own is quite sweet and creamy blueberry with just the barest hint of rum.

The tasting is subtle but quite tasty. Sweet blueberries with a hint of rum, very much so like I am drinking a blueberry oolong with a little spike of rum. I am pleased that the rum does not overpower, it is a problem sometimes that I run into while making my famous rumballs, rum is potent stuff! There is also a hint of oak that hides under the blueberry and rum, it adds an earthy quality that goes very well with the blueberries. The mouthfeel is fairly dry and the aftertaste is sweet blueberries. This one might be my favorite (it is an oolong after all) but there are many more to try still!

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/01/design-tea-blueberry-rum-oolong-tea.html


Mmmm. This sounds incredible!

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Well I finally have the Tea Lair set up, and I am worn out from moving all my stuff from the room to the basement. Exhausting but totally worth it! In yesterday’s blog I hinted at (ok just blatently said) it was going to be a theme week, and that theme is Design a Tea! After not being wowed by the samples I purchased they were kind enough to send me some samples of their loose leaf to try, and this week will be the adventure of trying them! We are starting the week with a green, because it is a new week and I like my little word plays.

Chestnut and Honey Green by Design a Tea blends green tea with two of my favorite flavor notes to find in tea, honey and chestnut. The aroma is as expected quite sweet like honey and richly nutty like chestnuts. The aroma is pleasantly sweet and not overwhelmingly so, there is an underlying vegetal aroma and a delicate hint of floral.

After giving the leaves a nice soaking in hot water (so jealous, it is too cold right now!) and the aroma is quite nutty and sweet, but the vegetal aroma is more clear now, taking on an air of artichoke. There is also a very delicate hint of floral as well which blends well with the other notes. The liquid sans leaves is richly nutty and creamy honey with a hint of vegetal. Quite a fresh aroma.

Tasting time! Initial thoughts: yum! A well balanced blend of chestnut and honey with delicate notes of artichoke and green beans. The sweetness is fairly faint having more of the taste of honey without all the sweetness. The taste manages to be rich and creamy while maintaining the delicate aspects one expects with a green. The aftertaste is nutty with an extremely faint hint of apricot. I really enjoyed this tea, it is real proof that loose leaf tea is superior! I look forward to the other teas I am trying this week.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/01/design-tea-chestnut-honey-green-tea-tea.html

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This is a perfectly fine tea, but it doesn’t stand out in flavor. I can taste the blueberry, but there are other blueberry teas I like more.

(Sample from silentrequiem. Thanks!)

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drank Pear Green by Design a Tea
248 tasting notes

Brewed this tea smells much stronger than the dry leaf in this sample that Dexter3657 so thoughtfully provided me. It smells sweet heading towards bosc pear and a little bit spicy. There is something in it that reminds me of juicy fruit gum. The only other pear green I’ve had is Earth Teaze’ which cleverly uses the interaction between the base tea and fennel to create the flavour but unfortunately uses a rather bitter base. The base is present and is sweet and a little grassy but is pleasant and light. The flavouring is a light slightly spicy pear. Like Dexter3657 suggested it would be nice if the flavouring was slightly more present, but this is a nice slightly sweet and spicy tea. Thanks!


Yay pear!


Wow, sounds awesome!



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drank Ice Wine Tea by Design a Tea
485 tasting notes

I needed a bit of sunshine this morning, so I chose this tea. It’s light, floral, and fruity which is helping me combat the crazy cold weather we’re having. Every time I have this tea I tell myself to hunt down other good pear teas. I like the juicy feel the pear lends to the tea. Yum.

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drank Ice Wine Tea by Design a Tea
262 tasting notes

I brewed a pitcher of this last night and stuck it in the fridge over night. Despite the below freezing temperatures (thanks, Polar Vortex!) I’ve been hankering for some iced tea. I used up the last of my stash of this and I don’t think I’ll be reordering.

This tea still doesn’t taste quite right to me. I like it better chilled, but not by much. I do like that the predominant flavor is black tea. I don’t like that I get a perfumy taste in my mouth when drinking this.

5 min, 0 sec

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drank Caramel Cinnamon by Design a Tea
52 tasting notes

I really liked this. It made for a really good cuppa. Until I got to the bottom of the cup. I dunno if I let it steep too long or what but it was very tannic and dried my mouth out. Still, worth it. Worth noting, it didn’t resteep well. Like, at all, you guys. My first cup was dark and smelled terrific. My aborted second cup was only slightly brown and smelled of nothing. So that was pretty disappointing.
Also, I think this finishes up my backlog from yesterday where Steepster went haywire. I drank countless cups because I was home and I could, gosh darn it!

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

Oooh, what a combination! Sounds yummy – sorry to hear about the resteep.

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