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I am using this for a Ginseng Oolong because I have no idea what company it came from. My friend from my tea book club went on a two week trip to China and brought me back a gift tin of Ginseng Oolong. The tin and vacuum sealed bag is all in Chinese and she couldn’t tell me much about it. The only English it has on it says “A taste of zen.” I looked it up and couldn’t find a tea company with that name so I don’t think it is the company name.

This is my first ginseng oolong. It certainly looks pretty cool. The flavor I am mainly getting is the vegetal and slightly floral flavor of a lightly roasted oolong along with almost a sweet licorice type flavor that I assume is the ginseng.

The smell of the brewed tea didn’t appeal to me as it smelled very green and most greens and lightly roasted oolongs are not exactly my favorite. But the flavor, while being much of the green oolong, is saved a bit because I do enjoy whatever flavor the ginseng is imparting along with a throat coating sensation which I tend to enjoy.

Flavors: Floral, Green, Licorice

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Had a small sample of this — not sure who made it. I’ve never had a golden earring tea before, so I was fascinated by the appearance of the leaves. Dry, this tea looked like tiny balls of rolled-up thread. It was fun watching them uncurl into silky olive-green leaves. It has that mild mineral note that is kind of characteristic of a roasted green tea, and the liquid was very pale.

180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Got a large bag of thIs from an Asian grocery, and have been having it iced every few weeks. I think I got a bad bag since it brews up kind of bitter and I definitely can’t brew it as strong as I’ve been able to in the past. Some of the smaller grains are black and burnt so maybe it’s just overtoasted. It’s a shame because I really enjoy iced barley tea. Hopefully I’ll find a better bag before summer.

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drank Vanilla Black Tea by Unknown
12 tasting notes

I’ll use this one for the Vanilla Black tea I have – that I have mixed from vanilla pieces and a none-too-good black tea of unknown origin.

As the vanilla pods were really good, this tea has a nice vanilla taste, covering up the less-than-perfect black tea (it is drinkable, mind you, just not up to my usual standards).
Needs a bit of sugar, but can be drunk without milk.

Flavors: Vanilla

Boiling 2 min, 0 sec 5 tsp 34 OZ / 1000 ML

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drank unknown Sencha by Unknown
880 tasting notes

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drank Sassafras by Unknown
880 tasting notes

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drank Lishan Oolong by Unknown
880 tasting notes

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drank Chinese Tieguanyin by Unknown
112 tasting notes

The tea comes in a metal tin with several single serving vacuum sealed packages of whole leaf oolong tea. Each leaf is rolled into a ball so it doesn’t break when they vacuum seal it.

Before I go any further I will try to better identify the tea I am reviewing. Most of the writing is in Chinese… this is all the English (or roman letters) I have to go on. The tin says “Chinese Tea Processed from the tinest and tenderraw tea leaves rich” (no tinest and tenderraw are not typos that’s actually what the tin says). Then at the bottom it says “JING XUAN’GHA LI”. On the vacuum sealed bags it says: “ZHONG HUA QING” then below it says “Tieguanyin Tea” which translates to Oolong tea. The only other clue I have is that this was given to me by a friend after they went on a trip to Hong Kong.

The tea tastes excellent and very fresh (even though it has been in my cupboard for about 3 years before I noticed it again and started using it). The individual vacuum sealed bags work great to preserve freshness. very few of the leaves are broken.

Even though the tea is packaged in a single serving vacuum sealed package I only used about 1/3rd of it for my cup of tea and although it is a bit mild, it tastes perfect for me.

185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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drank Pumpkin Spice by Unknown
3970 tasting notes

From my Mom’s stash.

She nabbed this one on sale a few days after Halloween from a local specialty coffee shop and I’m only just now getting around to try it. I’ve got no clue who the supplier is (though I’d wager likely MTC) so I just stuck this under a generic title to review it.

I made this with a little milk and honestly it’s not bad but it pisses me off too because it does that thing that most ‘pumpkin spice’ flavoured things (not just tea) does and that’s this: it tastes nothing like pumpkin. Instead, it’s just got nice notes of cardamom, clove, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. It’s also really earthy which I suppose is one thing it’s got going for it that separates it from a lot of other generic-y pumpkin spice things. The milk levels it out as well. Like I said, not bad.

But why would I ever want to order something that just tasted like spices instead of spices AND the thing they’re supposed to be seasoning!?


Lol…I’ve yet to have a pumpkin spice tea that successfully includes the pumpkin…maybe most companies think its to much of a risk since many people think pumpkin is an iffy flavor.

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drank Unknown Shou by Unknown
562 tasting notes

i tried the puerh in mandarin peel tea Amanda Vermillion sent me, its awesome!

when i smell the tea leaves and peel dry, i smell a little mustyness and orange citrus smell.

when i smell the tea leaves and peel wet, i smell sweetness and orange citrus.

when i smell the brewed tea, again i smell sweetness and orange citrus.

when i taste the brewed tea, i taste orange citrus and sweetness.

i rate this a 100 because of the complext yet tasty flavors/aromas.

this is one of the best puer i’ve ever had. many thanks!

Flavors: Citrus, Musty, Orange, Sweet

Boiling 0 min, 45 sec 12 g 8 OZ / 250 ML

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drank Sunset in Seattle by Unknown
463 tasting notes

I can’t find any info on this tea. The label says herbal and I agree but I don’t know what is in it. I taste mostly mint and maybe some chamomile. Not bad but I wasn’t thinking mint when I grabbed the package from the Here’s Hoping TTB.

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Well. You can’t get much more accurate than the title of this tea. That’s pretty much exactly what it is. And exactly how it tastes. Floral/in-your-face tropical. Too much for me, personally. This is also a tea I fed to my sick boyfriend, though I don’t think I added honey. He just wanted something hot. I had a re-steep, and it was so very floral…

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Got a jump start on this week’s cuppings for class; something cool about this week was that one of the sets of cuppings was a ‘blind tasting’ where we steeped a bagged and a loose leaf version of the same (or at least very similar) English breakfast for a person of our choosing and had them both review the tea, but also determine without knowing which is which what the ‘better’ was.

Because he’s really the only person I have easy access to, I used my roomie Tre as my guinea pig for this tasting. Just some background information for anyone who doesn’t know: Tre is not a tea drinker, and when he does drink tea it’s what I’ve picked out specifically for him and generally with a lot of added sugar. For the purposes of this tasting, he didn’t get any sugar or milk with the teas. Also, he’s a chef which you would think means he has a more refined palate but in all honestly I’ve never met someone with a weirder one. Anytime I have him blind taste/smell something he’s either simply off base or just not even in the right field to begin with.

So here are the highlights from this tasting:

When it came to the loose leaf version, he said that the colour of the ‘tea water’ (liquor) was obviously a lot lighter, which I somewhat agree with. While I don’t think the difference was drastic, it was noticeable. As far as the aroma he claimed he couldn’t smell anything but hot water. Which… I don’t even know how, but I digress.

When it came to describing the taste, he very accurately described the feeling of astringency without knowing the name for it – which I told him. He said this sensation was “mild” and when I further probed whether or not he liked the feeling he said he did. That it “felt like what tea should feel like”. But I could not for the life of me coax out any other flavour descriptors other than the astringency and the super not helpful “it tastes like tea”. No Tre! Break it down! However, saying that would’ve been like shouting at a wall so we moved on.

When it came to the bagged version there was the obvious flip regarding the liquor; “It’s darker than the other one. Almost black”. Well no, not black – just a nice rich red/copper kind of colour. As far as the aroma goes he claimed it ‘reminded him of Earl Grey’. I’m not entirely convinced he wasn’t just throwing out what tea terminology he does know. Seriously; what knowledge he retains about my blathering on about tea astounds me. The other day he correctly used the term ‘chawan’ while I was making matcha, but he thinks he tastes/smells bergamot with an English Breakfast? He has one weird palate.

But going further into what he tasted with this blend, he said the astringency (at this point he had been taught the right term) was “more powerful and long lasting” and he called the tea “slightly sweeter” but again I couldn’t coax any more out of him other than “it just reminds me of Earl Grey”. Doh!

I then had him guess which cup was which and he correctly did so, and finally I asked him which he preferred, to which he replied… The bagged tea.

What a tea pleb. But seriously; his logic behind the bagged tea was that it was better because it tasted stronger, and more like ‘what tea should taste like’. I guess taste is a subjective thing and I’ve got to understand that, but the way he processed each cup just seems so… Weird. I wish I could experience each of them the way he does. It would surely be an enlightening experience.

Since he didn’t feel like drinking both full cups I ended up taking a sip of each after he’d left. Now, to be fair I knew which was which but I thought the loose was definitely better. The astringency was pleasant, there wasn’t any bitterness and I could taste the nuances, like the malt and bread notes, better. The bagged, on the other hand, was really harsh and brassy and the amount of astringency kind of made me gag. How anyone could interpret that cup as tasting “sweet” has me seriously perplexed.

Also, again, Earl Grey!?


Loved this review. It so reminds me of trying to share tea with family. My favorite comment was from my mom who said of a beautiful dragonwell, “Well, I guess I can see how someone could get used to that.” Then she proceeded to pour up the decaf bagged Lipton. sigh.


That’s funny but that what majority people like. Many swear that Maxwell House is the best coffee in the world :p

Sami Kelsh

I feel your pain. I once had a line manager who referred to the loose-leaf teas I made myself at the office as “compost”. Thanks, bud. side-eyes the questionable faculty canteen pseudo-coffee he drank in abundance

My parents are good sports and will sometimes try things, and my husband likes cold-brewed fruit teas, but otherwise tends to respond with a yuck-face if I get him to try anything that isn’t PG Tips or the like – which he takes the bag out of as soon as the boiling water’s hit it. Even a totally basic loose-leaf Ceylon from Whittard was a bit off to him! I have given up.


Yeah, non-tea drinkers don’t understand why loose leaf is so much better, lol. My mom is very similar to your roomate- she drinks ONLY black tea with prob an inch of milk and a tablespoon or two of sugar (bleh). However, I do buy her loose leaf black tea for her birthday/mother’s day/Christmas (although I do bag it for her because I know she wouldn’t fiddle with it herself lol) and she says that she does notice it’s different and, although she cannot put her finger on it, she does like it better.

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drank Amaretto by Unknown
514 tasting notes

I have an unknown Amaretto tea also. My guess would be that it’s from Metropolitan tea company but I’m not sure exactly. I added some milk and sugar ‘cause on its own it wasn’t quite as nice as I thought it should be. Then it turned into a nice sweet treat. I know this would hold up well as a latte. I might try this one that way soon.

I’m attempting to drink all my teas once through. I have teas that I got and have yet to try. How sad eh? Well that’s about to change. Lots of new tea tastes coming my way!

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drank Unknown Green Tea by Unknown
880 tasting notes

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drank Bai Mei by Unknown
880 tasting notes

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drank Mint Green Tea by Unknown
1551 tasting notes

I went to a bridal shower two weeks ago and a small jar of this tea, loose, was one of the prizes. The lid is painted with slate so that you can write with chalk on it. They scrawled “mint green tea”. No indication of the company. I adore the periwinkle edging. I have mixed feelings about keeping tea in glass, but since my cupboard does have doors on it, should be ok right?
So the tea… Based on the rolled/semi balled leaves and metallic smell, and taste, I’d say the base is Gunpowder. Not my fave, but traditional for Moroccan Mint tea.
Today, I made a big mug iced with half a tsp of honey to cover up the metal note.
I quite like it this way. Not love but definite like. In fact, I may try and turn it into a mojito type beverage. Agave may work better. Need to pick some of that up as well. Throw in some soda water, vodka, mint leaves? Hmmm.
This will definitely hold me over til I find a mint green that tickles my fancy for summer :D. Thanks L for the tea!!!

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Warning – You will need a large enough teapot to house these amazing leaves!

They are big and long and look amazing! When I put them in water it went a beautiful bright light green.

Slightly nutty but grassy. Just the way I like it.

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drank russian caravan by Unknown
64 tasting notes

Just a nice kick-start to the day, along with meds to try and loosen up my spasmy shoulder. This one’s not overly smoky, and is fairly smooth. It was a gift from a friend, purchased at a local tea store.

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drank Thai Tea by Unknown
681 tasting notes

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drank Unknown Black Tea by Unknown
878 tasting notes

I’m almost positive this tea is from Handmade Teas but I can’t seem to find which one it might be. I put it in an airtight tin and never labeled it.. oops… anyways… It’s gone! I used up my two teaspoons and made a pot. It’s delicious. It has a rich malty-ness with dark chocolate undertones and a touch of sweet potato. There is a hint of caramel and a light fruitiness to it.

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