862 Tasting Notes

drank Coconut Cream Pie by 52teas
862 tasting notes

Prepped as below, with a splash of milk.

It’s a cloudy rainy day, but at least I’ve nowhere to be. Nowhere but on my couch, listening to Bon Iver and enjoying this cup of tea.

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First, the specifics of my order:

Matcha grade: Basic
Flavor: Distinctive
Size: 30 g.

You can order (and further customize the type of matcha/flavoring/amount!) here: http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/tiramisu-matcha.html.

This was my first experience with Red Leaf Tea, and I have to say the shipping was unbelievably fast! Like, two days door to door, and there are quite a few states between Georgia and Illinois. It’s like they knew I was waiting impatiently at the other end :).

This was also really my first experience with matcha. I love desserty things, and I love green tea, but I wasn’t so sure how the two would combine. Add to that the lack of traditional equipment and I was worried about not getting an authentic matcha experience. Well – I don’t know if it was authentic, but it was really, really good!

I prepared this latte style, all milk (heated in a saucepan) but no sweetener. I sifted about a tsp. of matcha into the heated milk and stirred to combine before pouring the whole thing into a milk frother. A few pumps of the frother resulted in some very impressive, thick layer of foam that didn’t disappear until I drank it.

And the taste was AMAZING! The sweetness in the milk was all that I needed to taste the cocoa powder and creamy marscapone cheese. There was still that nice vegetal green matcha taste to keep things from being OVERLY dessert-ish, though if that’s what you’re after you could certainly order more flavoring. I loved the balance between everything in this, and it’s a shame I only have an ounce of it. Oh well! Guess I better order more then! :)

180 °F / 82 °C

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Tonight was a crash course of Matcha Making 101.

I was able to get a gift certificate to Red Leaf Tea, and placed my order Friday. Their shipping was amazingly fast, because I checked the tracking number today to find it out for delivery. This was both very good, because it’s new tea (and when is that ever not good?) but also bad because I hadn’t actually looked into preparing matcha and here I was, the proud owner of 4 1 oz. packages of it.

I didn’t let that stop me.

I Macgyver-ed up system to approximate the matcha chasen, whisk, and bowl. Basically, I used my strainer from David’s Tea as a sifter, sifted the matcha into a stainless steel milk frother, and poured a small amount of hot water over. It frothed up, and then I added some more hot water into the frother before pouring that into a small square bowl that I drank it out of.

But going back to the matcha itself:

The powder was sort of an olive green, maybe a shade or so brighter. I went with the distinctive flavoring level for this one, which is one below delicate of their flavoring options. The scent was very lime/lemony more than anything else. I was kind of disappointed actually, because I was expecting a strong vanilla/custard note. But there was a tinge of creaminess in the scent, and I like lemon flavors, so I had high expectations.

I tried about 1/2 tsp. of the matcha with milk as the base first, and then water. The milk method resulted in a creamy, lemon tinged matcha with a grassy undertone from the green tea. I liked the flavor contrast from the creamier, sweet flavor to the slight bitterness of the matcha. I don’t know that I would have called it Bavarian cream, but I do know that I had two bowls of it because the first one made me want more.

The second bowl was made with just water, and after the milk option and all of its richness this rendition didn’t have much chance of winning the flavor contest. However, it did froth up nicely and the color of the liquor was a beautiful emerald green. I just spoiled my taste buds with the first option, and there’s no going back now. :)

So, do I like flavored matcha? Definitely. This is only the first of the four I bought from Red Leaf Tea, so that’s a good thing – I’m going to be swimming in this stuff for a while yet!

180 °F / 82 °C

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It was so good yesterday that I had to have more today. But the bad news is I probably only have enough for one more cup. :(. I’ll be shooting an email to Frank soon to get that taken care of (hopefully!)

Anyone want to split a pound of this with me – if it turns out he can do a reblend?

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This one’s pretty popular…. I’m willing to bet if he reblended it it would go quickly on the site! I’d certainly buy some!


I hope he goes for it! I sent him an email but I haven’t heard back yet – I’m sure the 12 teas of Christmas are keeping him busy!

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I don’t know why I forget about this tea. But it seems like what usually happens is I go through my standard favorites, then I want something new, and then I look in my cupboard on here and remember I have some and usually get up to make a cup as soon as this happens.

It’s like my ace in the hole or something. But I’m glad for it this morning, after the disaster my tongue just dealt with. Prep details – 2 tsp. leaf in 10 oz. of water with a splash of milk. Used the below parameters for steeping.

This is amazing. Maybe it tastes even better comparatively, but right now it is REALLY hitting the spot. A lovely vanilla/caramel/custard (I think someone used the term honeyed and they are totally right) with the perfect chewiness. It’s almost coffee-like in texture, too, which is a huge plus as I love tea with body to it. Honestly, if I put a pinch of salt in this I’d probably get the salted caramel flavor I envisioned from David’s Tea.

And it was in my stash this whole time. That’s kind of embarrassing.

Hmmm… this isn’t in the permanent collection with 52teas, though. Does anyone know if Frank still does the bulk (1 pound) reblends? I’d love to have it with me forever..

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I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

As far as I’m aware, he does still do them.

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The last of my free samples from David’s…prepped at the below parameters with a splash of milk.

The dry leaf smell is INTENSE chocolate. The darkest kind of chocolate which is fine with me because I love dark chocolate. And also, something else…it’s vaguely spicy but I don’t necessarily think spicy. If anything it’s got kind of a chemically smell that I’m not fond of and I hope doesn’t have any say in the final taste.

Uh, yeah. It does. At first you are kind of sidetracked with the dark chocolate, which I think the milk nicely complements, and then you get slammed with something… I’ll go with chemically and medicinal. It’s pinging some kind of taste memory, but I can’t quite place it. Ugh. After it goes from chocolate, to yuck, there’s that pepper burn that is only slight and fits with the whole chai motif.

I’m not going to be able to finish this one. The beginning and end of the sip are fine, but that middle part totally drops the ball and ruins it for me. Again – uuuuugggghhh. I’ll be back shortly with a different tea once I rinse toss this. :(

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So, what is the deal with Keemun in this one??

I ask because on the David’s website, no Keemun is listed in the ingredients. That’s probably shame on me, because they do say teas from Yunnan, but they didn’t specifically list Keemun until I looked at the package that had been shipped to me.

Now I’m super picky about smoke. As in, don’t like it. Don’t like the smell from campfires, from cigars, all of it is super offensive to my nose. So I was on hyper alert and sniffed the heck out of the dry leaf to see if any of that Keemun was there. And I guess I lucked out – because maaaaayyybe in the back corner of the smell, that last tiny speck of a whiff might have hidden some smoke. But it didn’t set any warning bells off so into my Breville it went: 3 tsp. leaf, 500 ml. water, at the below parameters.

Once brewed that tiiiiny scent translated into maybe a few little sips with smoke on the back end. I added some milk and it went away though. Whew! This led me onto more important things – comparing this breakfast tea to my gold standard, Upton’s East Frisian Blend. (see: all 20+ plus reviews of me singing its praises.)

I’ll just cut to the chase here and say that this one didn’t win. Although this tea is less astringent, even with a slightly longer steep time, it’s also got that thinner mouthfeel that I’m 3 out of 3 for with David’s blends. Even with the milk, it just doesn’t quite measure up. Both breakfast teas are very malty like good blacks are, but Frissy has more of a caramel-sweet note that is so homey and comfortable.

Also – as this one cools, or as I’ve left it alone for a second to write this review, that smoke is coming back on my radar. Smoky tea/milk – not my favorite.

Sigh. I feel like I’m being so hard on David’s! I don’t want to be, either, so I’ll say something positive here – I love their perfect tea mug, I loved their shipping and packaging of the teas that they sent to me. Everything is done with care and I know they genuinely love their customers and their products. And I KNOW I will love some of their teas – but I may have to wait for a store to come here (which – well, I live in Atlanta, Teavana Central) so I can sample smaller amounts at a time.

Who knows, maybe that Chocolate Chili Chai will be a contender..

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That smoky tone just isn’t for everyone. It took me a long time before I was able to even have Lapsang Souchong in the house, because the smell was so repulsive to me. I’d say it took me about 10 years to finally come around to it. Ha!


I have repeatedly commented on stuff DavidsTea posts about opening one up around here, lol. And not just “Come to Atlanta!!!!” like actually giving them specific spots that could work. If they open here in even the next two years I could die happily.


They keep changing the blend—it’s driving me crazy. The one I like best was from about a year and a half ago. Back then it was (in order of appearance: Darjeeling, Yunan, Ceylon. Now, its smoky with Assam and I can’t stand it. I, too, cannot drink Keemun. Yuck. As well, the stores labeling doesn’t match the actual ingredients. I bought 50gms about a month ago and the label still said ‘Ceylon’ with no mention of ‘Assam’. I can understand that being organic it might be difficult to use the same ingredients. I think, in that case, they should just say it’s not in stock. As well, its kinda coincidental that I find David’s teas to be very close to some of Murchies teas that have been around for years. When you order from Murchies however, you get the same blend each time.

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drank Pumpkin Chai by DAVIDsTEA
862 tasting notes

One of the free samples from my David’s tea order.

After the disappointment of the Salted Caramel tea, I was relieved to open up the package and smell this one. It reminded me of pumpkin pie, which really was because of the strong cinnamon and pumpkin notes. It almost seemed to have a hint of graham crackers in it, which made me think of pie crust I think.

So anyway – wonderful smell. I used the whole sample in my new perfect tea mug and steeped it in around 10 oz. of water at the below parameters. Added only a splash of milk because the initial taste seemed a little thin.

That ‘thin’ texture seems to be my main problem with David’s so far. The tea tastes fine – it just seems so watered down. This chai was definitely on as far as the pumpkin and cinnamon was concerned, but I got no other real ‘chai’ spice, and the milk really had to help to get that creamier, chewy texture.

This was another one that was just okay. I have the Chocolate Chili chai sample to try next so hopefully that one will wow me!

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drank Salted Caramel by DAVIDsTEA
862 tasting notes

I don’t think I’ve been so excited about tea since Frank announced the coconut cheesecake blend – which, incidentally, was my gateway tea way back when.

Salted caramel is absolutely one of my favorite dessert flavors ever. And both Teavana and David’s tea have blends for it this year! I got my boyfriend to spring for a perfect tea mug for both of us, then tacked this tea on (while he tacked the Organic Breakfast for himself). And then I waited for this sucker to ship from Canada down to Georgia.

My first cup was this morning, and I’ll be honest – I wasn’t impressed. I steeped it for about 4.5 minutes and added a splash of milk, but even before I added the leaf the dry smell was kind of off putting to me. Almost like musty and toffee mixed together. Even once I steeped it, that smell kind of remained. The milk made it creamy and perfectly drinkable, but – eh. Also, I got none of the salt. So I was unimpressed that first go around.

But obviously I wouldn’t give up that easily. So tonight I tried extending the steeping time with the hope that maybe that smell would transform into caramel with time. The steeped smell is a little more caramel and a little less toffee, so that’s good. And I think there’s a little salt in the sip, which is better. But plain – I’m getting some astringency that I’m not liking. We’ll see what the milk does…

The milk definitely makes it smoother – but there’s still that weird note in the background. I’m wondering if it’s the coconut or vanilla? I do get hints of caramel but nothing that makes me think of actual salted caramel. Darn.

It’s good, but not amazing. Sigh. Has anyone tried the Teavana blend? I would love to know how it compares…

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Whew! I just checked and this is still available in the permanent collection!

Black tea in the morning has started to become a habit of late. This one has actually grown on me since cutting out sweetener – for some reason it tastes more like itself that way. Whatever the reason I’ll take it. And I’ll probably end up getting some more once I get that first paycheck of mine. :)

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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. "


Medford, OR

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