635 Tasting Notes

drank Milk Oolong by Mandala Tea
635 tasting notes

Sunday sample sipdown!

This was a swap either from VariaTEA or Dex – I think VariaTEA. I’ve heard various hymns about Mandala, and about the high quality of this oolong in particular, so I thought I’d see what the fuss was about.

Man, this tea was wasted on me. I waited too long to sip it, so it probably absorbed the flavours of the other teas sitting nearby. In addition, I know myself well enough by now to know that green floral oolongs are not my favourite, and this was very floral. Third, I didn’t get much of a taste of cream or milk at all in this.

I tried brewing this gong-fu style with my gaiwan, but I got only about 3 or 4 steeps in before I decided that this tea just wasn’t working for me. I did a quick 10 second rinse, and my steeps ranged from 15-25 seconds. The leaves had started to unfurl quite nicely inside the gaiwan and the liquor was generally a pale golden colour, but the flavour still wasn’t compelling for me.

At least I have another data point to add to my observations about (my general dislike of) green oolongs.


I don’t think this was from me since I don’t usually keep oolongs around.


Hm, I guess it was Dex, then.

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This was a nice vanilla tea, but I sense that to really make it sing you need to add some cream, which sucks since we rarely have any cream in the house. I’ve added a splash of milk occasionally, but it just waters the whole thing down.

It’s not a bad tea per se, but not quite what I’m looking for. In the meantime, considering Della Terra is down for rejiggering, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll ever restock this.

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drank Jin Jun Mei by teasenz
635 tasting notes


This is a backlog from a few days ago, but I had just enough leaf left for a big 2-cup serving of this before starting work. It was a bit malty, but otherwise pretty non-descript. A good sturdy choice for the morning. However, as the sample aged, that dark chocolate note I noticed when I first opened the bag became less and less prominent.

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drank Rhubarb & Strawberry by Lupicia
635 tasting notes


Sil sent me a sample of this many months ago to try, and I figured it would be a good springtime tea. I managed to get 2 servings out of the sample she gave me. I’m not sure whether I botched the steeping, but this tea didn’t really excite me. It had a highly metallic note to it that I assume was the rhubarb. Not quite astringent, but tart enough to make me second guess things.

I wonder if some sugar would have tamed this. However, I’m not that motivated to find out.

Thanks for the chance to try this Sil!

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I’m really looking forward to restocking this once I finish off my GY from RiverTea.

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drank The au Chocolat by Lupicia
635 tasting notes

Backlog from last night

Sil sent me this in a swap a loooong time ago. Don’t know why I’ve been hoarding the Lupicia teas so much. I have about half the sample left now.

I remember trying Harney & Son’s chocolate blend “Florence” a few weeks ago and enjoying that. This one was kind of similar, but the chocolate flavour was far more prominent in the scent here rather than the taste. Florence had more true-to-life chocolate flavour, and I liked the note of hazelnut there.

If I had to choose between the two, I’d go with Florence over this.

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Thanks to Dexter for sending me some of this. I’m getting over a cold so I didn’t savour this one too much, but it was malty and a bit spicy. Not sure if I’d restock this, but it wasn’t bad.

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drank Pure Green Tea by Twinings
635 tasting notes


We have some of this in the house and I drink it when I’m in a rush in the morning. Not horrible, but definitely nothing exciting either. Kinda cardboardy, actually.

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This tea makes me so happy, because I’ve finally found a yunnan gold tea with the same hints of sweetness, smoke, and leather that are in RiverTea’s Golden Yunnan! I’ve been so sad about the demise of RiverTea because it meant I couldn’t get any more of GY, and I’ve been trying lots of Yunnan teas since then to find something that compares.

So far – up until today’s tea! – I’ve been disappointed. I keep getting sweet-potato-ish Yunnans instead of the smoky, leathery goodness like this.

I am beyond the moon with happiness now that I’ve found a replacement! (By the way, KS, you should try this too!)

I also like the fact that this comes in the cone shapes. It’s perfect for a cup, and 2 cones would be perfect for a teapot. I’m seriously considering buying 100g of this – 50 cones in total.

Many, many many thanks to Dexter for sending me this in a swap. Hooray!

Flavors: Leather, Smoke, Sweet


Awesome! I knew someone had to have a similar tea. I love the sweet potato Yunnans too but man, I’m a sucker for smoky leather. I reviewed several Esgreen teas a few years ago. I recall them all being decent enough. I’ll have to give this one a try. Thanks for the heads up.


Awesome!!!! Be sure to sign up with an account and to the ESGreen newsletter – you get loyalty points that can be used for dollars off your first order….


KS, which ones did you review? I’m seriously considering an order and I’d love some recommendations on samples.


Looks like I reviewed 11 of them back in 2013. http://theeverdayteablog.blogspot.com/search/label/Esgreen

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drank Florence by Harney & Sons
635 tasting notes

Had this tea last night. Thanks to Dex for sending this in a swap!

The dry leaf smelled like rich dark chocolate with a hint of something deeper behind it. Almost like chocolate mousse. The liquor was also very chocolaty, but as it cooled, the hazelnut note came to the fore.

I was hoping for more of a rich nutella flavour from this, but I think I was a bit shy on the steep. I steeped it for 3.5 minutes in freshly boiled water, but I think I should have gone for 4 minutes. Luckily, I have more than enough left to try again.

Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Nuts

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Updated February 2014:

I’m a writer and editor who’s fallen for loose-leaf tea hard. Within a year of joining Steepster, I’ve spent at least $500 on tea, and gotten a whole bunch in swaps! At this point I’ve got a better handle on what I like and dislike, but I’m sure that there will always be more to discover.

Likes: Green tea, sobacha, fruit flavours, masala chais, jasmine, mint, citrus, ginger, Ceylons, Chinese blacks.

Dislikes (or at least generally disinclined towards): Hibiscus, rosehip, chamomile, licorice, lavender.

Things I’m on the fence about: Oolong, vanilla (I prefer it mixed with black teas or rooibos rather than green tea), white teas.

Still need to do my research on: pu’er teas.

I rarely score teas anymore, but if I do, here’s the system I follow:

100-85: A winner!
84-70: Pretty good. This is a nice, everyday kind of tea.
69-60: Decent, but not up to snuff.
59-50: Not great. Better treated as an experiment.
49-0: I didn’t like this, and I’m going to avoid it in the future. Blech.


Toronto, ON, Canada



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