932 Tasting Notes

drank Noël à Paris by Dammann Freres
932 tasting notes

Advent 22.

Tastes like Christmas Tea Blanc on a black tea base. The cherry flavor pretty much overpowers everything else except the woodiness of the black tea. Cherry Jolly Ranchers, sour cherry juice concentrate. I swear I taste orange, too. No almond to be found by my senses.

Flavors: Candy, Cherry, Fruity, Ginger, Orange, Thick, Wood

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drank Vanilla Black by Cuppa Geek
932 tasting notes

Advent Day 18, From the Depths of the Grab Bag.

Packet: “Butterscotch. Butterscotch again. Vanilla? That’s what makes me think butterscotch.”

Tea: “It smells like that African tea.” I guess that is something Kiki remembers my aunt drinking way back. I happen to be drinking plain red rooibos tonight so I had her smell my mug and she said, “Yeah! That’s the African tea this tea smells like.”

“Vanilla, it tastes vanilla-like. It’s alright. I like vanilla but I don’t like it in tea. It’s mostly black tea with vanilla. It’s a 7.”

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drank Spiced Fall Evenings by Cuppa Geek
932 tasting notes

Advent Day 17, From the Depths of the Grab Bag.

A few swigs of vodka straight from the bottle and a light dinner. Kiki’s mellow tonight. As usual, the cat’s on her lap.

“You know, I think she has a few more years left in her.”

sniffs packet “Ahhhh…. sniffs again Yeah. and again That’s smells niiice. Apple?”

“It smells good. smile It smells like apple cider. Cinnamon? sips Ahhh. Star anise. loud laughs, sips And aaaah… red clover. It tastes like that Celestial Tiger tea.”

<me, curious> What does that mean?

“Warm and candy. sips Ahh. Yeah like apple cider with a cinnamon stick in it. sips and loud noises I like it. it’s good. pleasant. Kitty likes it, don’t you. It’s subtle but nice. Makes a statements. cackles I give it, uh, I give it an 8. I recommend it smiles It doesn’t have that clove thing in it. That clove thing, that’s bad. I think it’s good to have a bag full of stuff to try. I think we should continue this through the year. I do. An assortment. Are you typing while looking at me?”

<me, nonplussed> Yeah I do that.

“You could be a stenographer.”

<me, drinking my own tea> Oh.

sips “Good to the last drop!”


Love this!


Agreed! You should definitely make this a year-round thing.


I wish I’d known about the CuppaGeek advent teas in time to order them for my flavored-tea-loving mother. I doubt her comments would be as entertaining as Kiki’s, though :)

Maybe I’ll just order a bunch of the samples and have a mystery tea sampler for Valentine’s Day or Easter or Mother’s Day or whatever holiday is closest when I finally figure out which teas and how to organize them.

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This has been a lunch time brew several days per week for the past few weeks. At first, I didn’t like it but it’s grown on me. Today was a particularly good cup. There’s a heaviness to the tea that took me a while to appreciate and put a taste to. I think it’s lima beans. I like to brew this with a lot of leaf and for about 5 minutes to make a richer, honey-like brew with mellow notes of apricot, nectarine, orange zest and orange blossom to kind of overplay the beany-vegetal quality. Second, longer steep is equal in flavor and body. Sometimes I notice bitterness in this tea, other times not. Chili pepper spiciness, minty cooling.

I’m still undecided on where I sit with this one. Don’t have much experience with first flush darjeeling.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Beany, Bitter, Cream, Fruity, Heavy, Honey, Lima Beans, Mineral, Olives, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Pepper, Spearmint, Spicy, Stonefruit, Vegetal

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drank Noël à Manhattan by Dammann Freres
932 tasting notes

Advent 21.

The dry sachet smells a lot like candied chestnuts and artificial chocolate flavor coated hazelnuts with some mandarin orange zest.

The base tea feels like a mix between alkaline-bitter and oceanic-saline . It has a bothersome astringency and dries out my mouth. Guessing it’s a sencha. And I don’t think it at all goes well with the artificial-tasting chocolate and maple flavors. Slight hint of puffed rice. Finishes fruity and very drying. Gets prickly bitter when allowed to cool. Second steep was the same.

I like the concept but think it would taste better on a different green tea base, something that better complements the sweet flavors of chocolate, maple and chestnut, and even the mandarin orange, so maybe a Dragon Well. As it is, I’m surprised I drank two cups.

Flavors: Artificial, Astringent, Bitter, Chestnut, Chocolate, Drying, Hazelnut, Maple Syrup, Marine, Orange Zest, Sweet, Toasted Rice

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drank Mornin' Waffles by Cuppa Geek
932 tasting notes

Advent Day 16, From the Depths of the Grab Bag.

sniff the leaf, grimace “Let’s get it on I guess!”

sniff the mug “Oh gosh, here we go again. It’s got that caramel smell again, like butterscotch.”

sip “Yup there’s clove or star anise… it’s warm spice. sip Caramel apple? sip Cinnamon. It’s no so bad. Mhm. It doesn’t have that gritty tongue thing. Chocolate? sip, BURP Kinda tastes like pecan pie. Not too bad. It’s alright. I say it’s, uh, 7. Maybe 6.5 to 7. It just has, like, a little bit of an artificial sweet flavor. Would I recommend it? I don’t… I don’t… I don’t think so. There are better things out there. It’s got kind of artificial flavoring.”


My “friend review” of this tea came this morning (I sent her a grown-up sized packet for Christmas). It’s not as spirited as Kiki’s, but, and I quote, “Maple Waffle tea was AMAZING!”

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drank Grand Goût Russe by Dammann Freres
932 tasting notes

Advent 20.

The sachet smells mostly like ruby red grapefruit with bergamot underneath.

Light and refreshing. Smooth, woody and gently mineral-astringent base tea (only Ceylon?) supports well the mildly peppery bergamot, which is evident first, and lime, which shows up more in the aftertaste as floral key lime pie filling. I noticed the bottom of the cup smells like brown sugar and lime.

Second steep has what seems to me like the typical DF flavored black tea mouthfeel: thick and glassy, soft, almost juicy. The bergamot is stronger and akin to grapefruit rind, while the lime seems to have disappeared. My tongue is tingling from the bergamot rind. I like the lighter base tea; heavier blacks often used in Earl Grey tend to upset my stomach.

Maybe a little boring but still well composed. If you like milder Earl Grey and love lime, I’d recommend this. I doubt this would take milk well. Though I don’t add sweeteners to tea, I could see some honey doing wonderful things for this brew.

Flavors: Astringent, Bergamot, Black Pepper, Citrusy, Grapefruit, Lime, Mineral, Smooth, Tangy, Thick, Wood


My appreciation zone for bergamot is about three centimeters wide. This sounds like it would hit it right down the middle!

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Because of the tiny, thin leaves and their clumpy nature, when I take some from the jar, it feels like I’m pinching some tobacco from a pouch to roll a cigarette. I like that aspect of this tea. The qualities of the leaf go beyond sight and smell and into a familiar past, a ritual of touch.

The dry leaf smells rich and fruity, like a mix between scotch, cocoa, leather and tobacco. A haylike quality is also present. The fruitiness comes as lighter, shifting notes of raisin, raspberry, apricot and plum. Some florality is presented as osmanthus. When had gongfu, the warm leaf smells strongly of sourdough starter and a bright red wine with a red currant note.

I’ve prepared this tea 3 different ways so far: western, bowl and gongfu. I’ll start off by saying gongfu preparation makes a tea difficult to please. I never could get the right touch to take this tea into the enjoyable territory of its western or bowl preparation. It was always overpowering, savory-sour, bitter-vegetal and drying. Early aroma was cocoa-fruity-leathery; later, somehow undeniably like ramps.

I was going to try to describe all three ways in one note but I can’t seem to gather my thoughts into anything cohesive. I’ll add another note or two for western prep and bowl tea.

Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Cocoa, Cream, Drying, Grain, Hay, Leather, Malt, Orange, Osmanthus, Peach, Plums, Raisins, Raspberry, Red Wine, Scotch, Sour, Strawberry, Tobacco, Vegetal, Wheat

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drank Tisane de Noël by Dammann Freres
932 tasting notes

Advent 19. All caught up.

The sachet smells rich and spicy, herbaceous and floral. Chocolate flavoring-cinnamon-clove, ginger-lemon balm-floral perfume.

Every single sip is dirt rolled in licorice, sprinkled with chocolate flavoring, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom, then rolled in more dirt. Like the dry, crumbly kind. Finishes licorice-sweet.

Dirt dirt dirt. Nope nope nope.

Flavors: Artificial, Cardamom, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Clove, Earth, Floral, Ginger, Herbaceous, Lemongrass, Licorice, Perfume, Spicy, Sweet


Oh dear!


Ugh. I can’t stand teas that taste like somebody’s spice cabinet threw up. Sounds like this might qualify.

Cameron B.

Dirt dirt dirt, LOL!


Soundeth like a waste of cardamom

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drank Blueberry Lemon by Cuppa Geek
932 tasting notes

Advent Day 15, From the Depths of the Grab Bag.

sniffs packet “Mmm, citrusy.”

<me, curious> Yeah?

“Yeah? Citrus?”

<me, poking> I dunno. What do you think?

lotta sips "Hm. Maybe some lemongrass? chokes It’s pleasant. Even though I just choked. Maybe a little vanilla? Maybe it’s got a little hibiscus? Maybe it’s raspberries.

<me, knowingly> Raspberries?

“Raspberries, strawberries? Some kind of berry flavor. It’s good, it’s light, buRRRrrps it’s refreshing. It’s very pleasant – I like it – I’d give it a 7.5 because I would drink it again. It’s a good blend, a go-to. So what kind is it?”

Blueberry Lemon.


Sounds like she enjoys it as much as last time :)

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Tea Habits:

Among my favorites are sheng puerh, Taiwanese oolong, a variety of black (red) teas from all over, all teas Nepali, herbals, Wuyi yancha. I keep a few green and white teas on hand. Shou puerh is a cold weather brew. Tiny teapots and gaiwans are my usual brewing vessels when not preparing morning cups western style and pouring into my work thermos. Friend of teabags. Hold the milk and sugar unless we’re talking masala chai.

In my late teens, home-brewed unsweetened Lipton iced tea was the drink of choice to combat cottonmouth. The following years saw the appearance of the odd box of tea from Trader Joe’s. About 4 years ago, walking out of the parking garage where I kept my motorcycle, I came across a move-out dumpster treasure: single serve packets of what I can look back now and say was Wuyi yancha. Yes, I drank dumpstered tea and honestly, that’s what blew the doors wide open.

Preference Reference
“That’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

100-90: A tea I can lose myself into. Something about it makes me slow down and appreciate not only the tea but all of life or a moment in time. If it’s a bagged or herbal tea, it’s of standout quality in comparison to similar items.

89-80: Fits my profile well enough to buy again. Some could be great daily drinkers.

79-70: Not a preferred tea. I might buy more or try a different harvest. Would gladly have a cup if offered.

69-60: Not necessarily a bad tea but one that I won’t buy again. Would have a cup if offered.

59-1: Lacking several elements, strangely clunky, possesses off flavors/aroma/texture or something about it makes me not want to finish.

Unrated: Haven’t made up my mind or some other reason. If it’s puerh, I likely think it needs more age.

Character Rundown:

Boring pandemic hermit whose only current hobbies besides tasting tea are skateboarding and learning herbalism. Will update as the times change.


Sonoma County, California, USA

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