449 Tasting Notes

drank English Caramel by Lupicia
449 tasting notes

I had some this morning, though I wonder if I could have used better steep parameters.

This tea smelled of caramel, but it was quite subtle in the taste – and even then, it gave off the sent of a salted caramel, rather than the really creamy thick kind.

Thanks to Sil for the sample!

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Kinda-sorta-backlog from a few days ago.

I made a big batch of this in my iced tea pitcher a few days ago, and have slowly been sipping it since. While the dry tea leaf and the brewed tea certainly smell of blueberry, I find it hard to discern in the tea itself without a little hit of sweetener.

As it goes, though, this isn’t bad. There’s a light floralness on the back of the tongue, and the body of the sip is nice, fresh, and clear. This is definitely a tea made for coldbrewing.

Also, in my last note, I complained that I didn’t have much to write about, but I just thought of something: where on earth are my incoming tea boxes?! I’m still waiting to hear about my Just Organic kickstarter tea package being sent out, and apparently my Teavivre teas had been sent out back in July but are still not here – they’re not even showing up as arrived in Canada yet. On top of that, I’m also waiting for a set of sampler teas from Teasenz. That one is more recent, so I know I shouldn’t expect it yet… but… I want my tea NAO! =^.^=


Maybe your mail carrier likes tea and is hoarding them? ;)


Well, I’m assuming the Just Organic kickstarter stuff hasn’t even been sent out yet, since I haven’t gotten an email notification and was told I would get one. I’m getting really antsy about that one because the Kickstarter originally planned to have the tea sent out in July, but now it’s near the end of August and nada.

As for the others, I really don’t know. I trust Teavivre and know that their shipments can take a tad longer, but still, I just want my tea :)

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Backlog from this morning.

I think this tea benefits from a slightly lower steeping temperature than indicated. The first time I tried it I think I used 80C, and it had this lovely green flavour with a strong impression of stonefruit. However, both times since, I’ve used 82C water and it’s been markedly astringent.

I find it hard to believe that 2 degrees C could make that much difference, but it appears to be true.

People, I’ve had a long day. I don’t have much interesting to say, but at least there’s always tea.

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Backlog from last night.

Teavivre gave me 3 packets of tea to sample, one of which I gave to a friend. Of the two remaining, I used a whole packet to brew it in my gaiwan about a month ago. Now, I’ve opened up the last remaining packet.

I must say that of all the jasmine teas I’ve tried from Teavivre, this one is my favourite. The jasmine here is beautiful and strong, but not overpowering with the metallic taste I’ve found in some jasmine teas. Here, the flavour is sweet at the back. This is just such a gorgeous tea.

I steeped it twice, both times for two minutes, and got a beautiful clear yellowish liquor that shaded down to dark green as the tea sat in my mug. The flavour was clear, sweet, and jasminy, with a somewhat thick mouthfeel but otherwise very fresh and relaxing.

I don’t consider myself a fan of white teas, so it’s doubly lovely to find such a gem.

Cameron B.

This sounds like it would be lovely, especially since I enjoy TeaVivre’s silver needle. :)


I adore this one.


I love this tea. It’s one of my favorites. It’s the perfect amount of jasmine.


I just bought this one on their anniversary sale, can’t wait to try it!


@Darby: the leaf on this one is very fluffy, so it’s kind of hard to measure. However, I think that because of the strength of the jasmine flavour it’s okay to underleaf this slightly.


Isn’t silver needle the prettiest leaf! I’m cold brewing a rose silver needle now.

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Last night was a good night. I did a lot of reading, I watched the live stream of the Hugo Awards (OMG, so happy that Ann Leckie and Kameron Hurley and Sofia Samatar won awards. And the magazine that I read slush for, Lightspeed, won a Hugo too! I bask in their reflected glory!)

I talked to my sister, tidied up my office, and then went to bed sometime around half past 11.

This meant that when I woke up this morning, I was full of sleepy blerg. The shower helped some, but as I was heading down to the kitchen to make breakfast, I was totally struggling over what to brew.

Then it hit me: I really just want some plain old black tea. And I LOVED this when I first had it a week ago. So into the pot it went.

I steeped it for a tad too long this time, so it’s slightly astringent, but yeah, I don’t regret brewing this. Such a wonderful malty, fruity flavour. I really need to try more ceylons, because if they’re similar to this, I think I’m in love.

Boiling 5 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 24 OZ / 709 ML

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Happy Sunday, everyone! It’s time for another Sunday Tea and Books review.

The Tea

Jasmine Special Grade Green was part of Simple Loose Leaf’s August subscription box. I ended up getting a sample of this in the July box, and then unexpectedly got the August box for free. When I told Simple Loose Leaf this, they said that they hadn’t meant to send it out, but that they’ve enjoyed my ST&B reviews so much that I should just consider it to be a thank-you box. Awesome!

When I first opened up the package, the smell of jasmine was unmistakable, but the smell of the green base underneath was unusual. It smelled sort of smoky and leathery, but I really couldn’t put my finger on it.

The resulting tea is similar. The jasmine is very strong, but still somewhat sweet. I was initially worried that I had overleafed it somewhat. I think that because of the strength of the jasmine flavour, this tea would benefit more from a 2-minute steep than a 3-minute steep, because at 3 minutes the resulting liquor was dark and intense.

All throughout, I wished that I could get a better sense of what the base tea was. Neither Simple Loose Leaf nor Maya Tea Company (which I’m assuming is the source supplier for this tea because the photo and the description of this tea is the same on both sites) mention the base cultivar/variety for this tea, which means that I feel I’m lacking some context in order to fully appreciate it.

Despite this, it is still a decent jasmine tea. It edges towards the Wall of Overwhelming Jasmine flavour that I worry I will sometimes experience with jasmine teas, but it stops just short of that unpalatable threshold.

I drank most of this while sitting at the little patio table on the front porch of the house. The weather dallied back and forth between being sunny and cloudy. I just sipped, read a book, and watched my cats wander around the front yard. All in all, it was a nice, contemplative tea session.

The Book

So what fictional character does this tea remind me of? This is a tea with a distinctive flavour, but with origins that are somewhat murky. Despite this lack of context, it has a lot of potential for future enjoyment, as I find there’s always something soothing about drinking jasmine tea.

Hm…a character whose origins are unknown, but who has the power to do great things. A character, in fact, whose destiny hinges on the fact that they don’t know their origins, their history, their parents.

This tea makes me think of Taran from Alexander Lloyd’s Chronicles of Prydain series. Although I haven’t read the books myself, thanks to Wikipedia I am an unrepentant devourer of spoilers, and I know that by the end of the series, Taran, despite being an orphan, becomes the High King of Prydain. In fact, his ascension is ordained by prophecy, as it’s stated that only one with “no station in life” would be able to succeed the current dynasty to rule after their passing.

He seems like the perfect character to match to a tea with similarly unknown provenance that is memorable in spite of that lack of info.

EDIT: I did a second steep for 2 minutes, and the result was still very strongly jasmine flavoured. I have to admit that by the end of the second pot of tea, I felt that I had reached my Jasmine Quota for the day.

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 24 OZ / 709 ML

awe…i loved those books growing up


I thought this one was pretty good, but did much better on later infusions so the jasmine calmed down some.


Yeah, I really should resteep this one to see. I’ll update the note soon.

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drank Sweet Meringue by RiverTea
449 tasting notes

The more I have this tea, the more I like it. It’s sweet and nutty, and I don’t really have anything else in my cupboard that’s so unabashedly candy-like.

One day I’ll mix this up with the remainder of my sample of Granny’s Cake, and then, it shall be glorious.

Boiling 8 min or more 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

This note makes my mouth water!

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After yesterday’s black tea kick, I felt like having this tea this morning. However, I have to admit that it’s so strongly scented and flavoured (with the rose coming forward more, rather than the fruit) that this is definitely only a once-in-a-while tea.

I didn’t even finish off the final cup in the teapot. Today’s been a bit hectic.

185 °F / 85 °C

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drank Granny's Cake by RiverTea
449 tasting notes

Backlog from yesterday:

Oh yeah. This is the stuff. I will totally restock this when I break my tea hiatus in September. It helps that I have a coupon code.

The first time I steeped this, there was a whole star anise seed in the leaf, and I think there were also a few chocolate chunks. This time I tried to get as much plain leaf as I could to see what difference it made, and I think it tasted BETTER than before.

I just love the spice blend in this. It’s sweet, eggy, vanilla-y, and it genuinely does smell like a warm cake fresh from the oven. You don’t even need sweetener, that’s how good this is.

EDIT: Bumped the rating up a bit. The more I think about it, the more this is definitely a winner according to my rubric.

1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

this sounds soo outrageous & i simply adore star anise! of all teas that are on my wishlist, your review of this just about placed this at no.1 ;)

spicy, sweet vanillary cake….i’m getting hungry! would u say it’s chai-like in any way, or is it just as cake-like as i imagine it to be?


I suppose it’s kind of chai-like, as the ingredients list includes cassia (which is similar to cinnamon), star anise, cloves, and cardamom.

However, it doesn’t have any ginger or peppercorns in it, which I understand are traditional chai ingredients. It DOES have some unusual ingredients though, like raisins (I haven’t seen any in my sample), rose blossom leaves, and vanilla.

So yeah, I’d say it’s more cake-y rather than chai-y. I really am amazed at how much it smells like there’s some sort of egg batter in the mix.

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I made a big pitcher of this iced yesterday – 3 teabags, about 1 L of hot water, let steep for 5 minutes, then top up with cold water and ice.

It’s surprising, but the sort of dark lemony sweetness I find in this tea when it’s hot is absent when it’s cool. Or maybe not absent – just that the tea base comes to the fore more.

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I’m a writer and editor who, after years of bagged-tea purgatory, has finally seen the light and glory of loose-leaf teas. I’m still just starting my journey, as it’s been only in the last 2 years that I’ve started drinking loose-leaf tea, and only in the past few months that I’ve been trying different varieties in earnest.

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

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: unflavoured black teas, pu’er teas.

For those interested, here’s my scoring system, though I don’t score teas as often as I used to:

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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