829 Tasting Notes


Alright – my first Whispering Pines order, which I got during the Cyber Monday deal.

I love a good black tea. A good, malty black tea and some vanilla notes is even more up my alley, and the smell of the steeped leaf (mostly malty, potatoey yunnan notes) and steeped tea (mostly vanilla, but so much vanilla it’s almost chocolate…has this happened to anyone before?) is really promising.

I followed the parameters recommended on the bag, so 1.5 tsp., 3 minutes and 200 degree water. The first tasting impressions I’m getting are a very creamy vanilla/chocolate combination. Not so much black tea at this point, but I have the rest of the cup to go to find that. :)

As it cools the malty notes peek out in the scent of the steeped tea, but I still mostly pick up chocolate and vanilla in the flavor. I may try some milk just to see if I can tease out a little something different…and, no. This cup is just meant to be those two flavors for me.

I agree that this is a lovely winter sipping tea – and I definitely prefer it without anything added, after trying it both ways. I’m not as wowed as others seem to be though. I’ll enjoy what I have, for sure, and I like it fine, but as of right now it doesn’t rank as a must-have.

Flavors: Cocoa, Cream, Sweet, Vanilla

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 15 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML

IMHO, GO is an excellent desert tea. It’s not a robust malty breakfast tea.

Cathy Zheng

I found that this one took some time to grow on me, and then I became obssessed


My favorite.

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Hmm. I ordered this because Vienna was in the description and I was on a nostalgic kick remembering my trip there a few months ago. When I got this I thought, hmm, sounds familiar, and I was right! There’s a tasting note here from 2-ish years ago.

I also remembered not being too thrilled with the blend but I believe sometime after that I was told about how Darjeelings are gentle souls that cannot handle boiling water. With that in mind I made a big cup with a little more leaf and a cooler brewing temperature.

I would say this is a much better cup this time around. More flavorful, definitely tastes like tea and bergamot. It’s got a nice creaminess in it too, though I don’t believe there is vanilla in the ingredients. A tea pretending to have vanilla in it will never lose points with me though :).

I’ll definitely have to prep the remaining part of my sample this way. It is a lighter blend for sure, and I would say I need heavier teas to get me going in the morning, but I’m glad I’m able to raise the rating on this one and find a sweet spot for how to best enjoy it.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 45 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

“A tea pretending to have vanilla in it will never lose points with me though” – oh so true!

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My favorite, favorite breakfast tea ever with the addition of vanilla? YES, PLEASE.

I got a sample of this because it would have been stupid of me not to. In fact, I’m kind of surprised its taken so long for me to get the sample, but I guess I just haven’t needed to make an order until now.

Yes, I definitely like this one. I’m not surprised. I actually had it plain and the vanilla added an excellent creaminess that at the time didn’t need any additives. I may try it with milk and/or sugar at some point, too.

I’m not going to go with a solid 100 yet because I have a few more cups to play with, but the first cup was promising. I’m starting to think that East Frisian anything can do no wrong where I am concerned.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Sounds awesome! Onto the wishlist it goes.


Interesting heh.

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Steep two: 2 minutes.

The tuo cha broke apart completely after the first infusion, which honestly I was glad for. I don’t know why but the whole piece just sitting in water unnerves me – it’s like it won’t distribute flavor evenly through the water. This is obviously not true but it’s something I’m visually going to have to get used to.

Anyway, the hay/pellet smell is back in the steeped liquor. It is still, thankfully, not present in the taste. The semblance is coffee is still really strong, and particularly so in the texture – it is a very thick, chewy tea. As it cools the hay/fermentation becomes present in the taste – boo. If I can get used to that I think I’ll be good as pu erh’s go. This is going to be a slow process but I’m determined – pu’erh is my final tea frontier and I really want to explore it as thoroughly as I have all the other types. More later….


hahahaha i have the same mental approach to that one lump sitting there!


Yay! It’s silly but sometimes it’s nice to know you aren’t alone with some things :)


HI! check out this vid of brewing mini-tuocha. May it be useful in making ripe pu’er a more pleasant experience for you, my friend! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdIW5jzwMCs&feature=youtube_gdata

With gratitude,

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I forgot that Upton sends you samples with your order!

They sent me this one when I replenished my beloved East Frissy and spearmint teas. Given that most of my teas from them are blacks I was not surprised (and was actually very pleased) to get an estate Assam. Assams make great breakfast teas, after all.

The dry leaf in this one was familiar in that in had the malt and raisin notes but also something I really had a hard time placing. I’m glad they mentioned red wine in the description, because – yes! That’s it! I don’t drink wine very much so that explains why it was familiar but not really, and raisiny but…different than straight raisin.

I went straight for 4 minutes with this one as that’s where I like my black teas, and since I knew I’d be adding some creamer to it I wasn’t afraid of how strong it would get. But I did try a few sips plain and I was surprised. While this was astringent, it wasn’t so much so that you CAN’T drink it plain. It isn’t unpleasantly bitter. Not at first, anyway. There’s a chewy malt texture and it’s quite nice for an assam.

Oooh kay. Good thing I got my creamer out though because as it cools it decides that yeah, the astringency needs to be punched up a notch. At this point it requires some milk and sugar to calm it down some. Ah, well, easily remedied, that.

This is still very strong with the creamer added, and is behaving like all breakfast teas should. Strong, bold, and a good start to the morning. East Frisian got to my palate first, though, and its proving to be impossible to displace – this one’s good but it’s not good enough to beat my current staple. It was great to get to try an estate tea, though!

Flavors: Malt, Raisins, Red Wine

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Alright pu’erh. Let’s do this.

Recently I decided to try pu’erh and really learn more about it. I timed it perfectly with Black Friday sales, and this is the first tea I wanted to try from Mandala. I figured I’d go with a shou first since it’s darker and I do so love black teas.

Rinse: 15 seconds

Steep one: 1 minute. People mention the term “fermentation flavor”, but maybe that is what I think of (or what my boyfriend mentioned, and now I cannot un-think of) as hamster pellets? It’s kind of woody and hay-y. I’m so inexperienced with pu’erh that this smell is making me nervous. It doesn’t smell – drinkable. But I’m determined to try it, so I take my first sips. At first there is a small amount of this pellet flavor but there is also something surprisingly pleasant. Kind of coffee-like (a dark french roast), but without the acidity of coffee. This is very smooth. I can also get the dark cocoa powder notes. If the fermentation flavor ages out of this I think I will like it a lot, but it’s not bad as is.

I can see how it’s an acquired taste, though. As it is I’ve kind of had my fill with this and want to save the leaves for later. That could also be because I am super tired because I just finished my 12 hour night shift though. Oh well, to be continued in later notes…

Flavors: Cocoa, Coffee

Boiling 1 min, 0 sec 6 OZ / 177 ML

worse case when you do later steeps… just have a sip and move on to the next one haha

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drank Forest White by Tea Hawaii
829 tasting notes

I was honestly convinced this tea had some scent contamination when I first opened the package. I mean, it’s a white tea – why is it smelling like raisins and cocoa? I sniffed the outside of the package and it smelled like plastic, and then moved some leaf to the gaiwan and inhaled again. Raisins and cocoa. Okay. So, not contaminated, and also completely unlike any white tea I’ve ever had. Should be interesting, then.

Steep one notes: 3 minutes, boiling water, 2 g. leaf to 5 oz. water.

The leaves are HUGE. Huge and very minimally processed, which is to say they are unevenly shaped and sized. The liquor is now trying to be much more…green oolong. It’s buttery and floral to taste but there’s still some underlying malt and raisin. WHAT IS THIS TEA??? It is really smooth, is what it is. And curiously addictive – I can’t seem to stop sipping it and I almost feel buzzed. Hmm… maybe this is what the phrase “tea drunk” means?

I like it. I like it alot.

Steep two: 4 minutes

A thinner, lighter brew this time. This was sweeter, less heavy on the florals but still really good. I truly do feel lightheaded- I’m writing it down if only to see if this happens the next time I drink this as well. Must be something about the Hawaiian terroir.

Steep three: 5 minutes

Now the liquor smells flowery again. Specifically, rose, which is awesome because I much prefer rose to jasmine in tea. This infusion is more floral in taste as well. This steeping is more of what I consider an oolong flavor profile. If I REALLY concentrate I can sort of get notes of hay that I associate with white teas as well. It’s quite the chameleon!

Steep four: 7 minutes

I let this steeping cool longer than I should have, but it was still nice. Same floral notes and an undertone of wood as well. I probably could get more steeps out of this, and I may try, but Tea Hawaii recommended only 4 so I’m stopping here for now.

What a fun tea! I loved how complex and variable it was. It is definitely a luxury tea and way too expensive to keep around in large quantities (especially with my inconsistent drinking habits) but it’s a great palate expanding adventure and I will savor my last two servings of this for sure!

Flavors: Cocoa, Hay, Raisins, Rose, Wood


Neat ;)

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Christmas tea!

I know most Christmas teas are really an orange spice blend, but the addition of plum to this is what makes it for me. It smells and tastes so warm and comforting. Tonight I’m having it plain and the spiced plum notes are the most prominent.

Absolute perfection- I have maybe one mug left so I know it won’t make it to the end of the year, but it will make the holidays that much more special!

170 °F / 76 °C 4 min, 15 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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drank Smooth Earl by Compass Teas
829 tasting notes


This is a really good Earl Grey Creme – probably one of my favorites. Alas, I keep having these problems wherein I like ONE tea by ONE company – but then nothing else. And then I can’t justify ordering mass quantities of one tea because I drink it too slowly.

So, while I do love this, Upton’s Earl Grey creme will be the one I stick with, simply because I have a few staples there already and it is more convenient. This one will be missed though. And I’m down to 46 teas! Which is good because 16 more teas are incoming… Cyber Monday singlehandedly is filling my cabinet right back up, haha.

Boiling 3 min, 15 sec 2 tsp 14 OZ / 414 ML

YES! i’m totally with you on that… 1-2 teas so it’s like um ok… 20$ shipping to canada…4$ on the tea. riiiiiight

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I must have underleafed this one yesterday because it was unfortunately pretty tasteless and watery. As it cooled I got a little more flavor but it was nowhere near the bright citrusy ceylon and raisin notes.

Luckily I have more of this, though I do need to hoard it – it makes me so sad to think I’ll never get to buy this again :(.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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I have come to the point (as of October 2014) where quality in tea is more important than quantity. Especially because I’m a seasonal tea drinker where hot tea is concerned, and a SLOW one to boot. I generally don’t resteep only because I’d be here all day if I did, though I do break out a gaiwan from time to time.

I adore French teas in practically every iteration, Japanese Sencha (specifically from the Uji region, as they offer the most seaweed flavor), and Dan Cong oolongs. I am trying to focus on plain teas and so companies like Verdant, Upton, and Butiki are on my favorites list.

When it comes to tea, I feel like the 10th Doctor says it best:

“Tea! That’s all I needed! Good cup of tea! Super-heated infusion of free-radicals and tannin, just the thing for healing the synapses. "


Atlanta, GA

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