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2221 Tasting Notes

drank Birthday Cake by DAVIDsTEA
2221 tasting notes

I am trying to concentrate on catching up with posts on here… but I’m having trouble because the amazing smell of birthday cake is sooooo distracting! I can’t believe how delicious this one smells! I really had low expectations for it, but the aroma is intoxicating. Sweet and mapley vanilla, perhaps? VERY sweet. So sweet that just sniffing this makes my tastebuds think they’ve had dessert. Gah. Pleasepleaseplease let this taste as good as it smells, because then I’ll have another wonderful go-to dessert rooibos for those nights (or days) when I want something disgustingly sweet, not just hinting at it. Steep faster, delicious-smelling tea! (Side note: I’m moderately concerned that I may have steeped this one too hot – in my excitement to get it going, I grabbed my cup out of the microwave with boiling water in it, and plunged my filter basket in, which caused it to go all fizzy and bubbly and boiling. I probably should have given in 30s or so…)

Review pending the stupid tea cooling down! ARGH!

Ok! Finally get to try it! It’s not bad; the initial part of the sip is kind of strong (probably my fault – I was not skimpy on the dry tisane!) and rooibos-y, but the aftertaste is sweet vanilla-y maple. I have to agree with everyone else that it’s kind of sickly sweet… but I’m kind of in the mood for it right now. I’m definitely not getting ‘birthday cake’… but I don’t like birthday cake anyhow, so that’s not exactly an issue.

Overall not a bad rooibos, but not good enough to bump Alpine Punch or other tasty ones. It’s just a bit one-note for me, and I want more than that. But the sample will definitely get finished in the evenings as a yummy dessert tea!

Boiling 8 min or more

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drank Strawberry Orange Scone by 52teas
2221 tasting notes

Quickly, a note before I dash home!

Mostly smells and tastes like orange peel. I am not really getting any strawberry, or scone. A bit of astringency; clearly I oversteeped (thought so). I’ll re-evaluate when it cools, but I don’t think I’m terribly fond of this one.

Thank you LiberTEAS for this sample :)

ETA: Second steep this morning is funky. Into the garbage it goes.

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

Definitely try maybe 3 minutes, and water below boiling. I had problems with a lot of the 52teas black teas not tasting so good so I started using it out of my Keurig for them which I think gives you like 90* water maybe? But it made the Milk & Cookies tea SO much better for example.


Ah, someone had recommended that for 52teas blacks…. was it you?? … Oh yes, it was :D I should have remembered! I did mean to only steep it for 3 minutes, but there’s a bit of lag time getting my timer going everytime, and I accidently forgot to change it from 4 mins to 3 mins… thus 4:30. I’ll try it again that way! Good thing I have more than a cup’s worth for pretty much every sample I’ve been sent :D

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Er… I just realized that I buggered this one up! I definitely steeped it in boiling water (or whatever temperature boiling water drops to when poured into a mug), because for some reason I had black tea on the brain. Surprisingly though, I thought it was just fine in spite of that. Just a touch of astringency at the end of the sip, and really, it was hardly noticeable and not bothersome. Anyways, I guess I’ll try it again at the proper temperature in the future!

The dry leaf smells like creamy banana coconut with what smells to me like a black tea base. Steeped, I’m getting a baked goods-banana scent, which is good.

Trying this one hot, I thought it tasted much like Monkey Fart (the banana is the same), but as it cooled I enjoyed it more. I’m not entirely sure that it tastes like banana cream pie to me… but I’m actually not certain that I’ve ever even had banana cream pie, so that probably wouldn’t be a fair judgment! I drank it during a seminar though, so can’t recall everything I tasted, but it looks like another tea that I’m happy to have tried but fine with not having again once my sample is gone. (Btw, thanks to LiberTEAS for this sample!)

(The second infusion seems to be reasonably tasty too, although it has yet to cool enough for me to get the full range of flavours. Worth that second cup though, I think!)

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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To celebrate having gone to bed at a decent hour AND having woken up on time (in spite of the fact that I’ve done nothing productive since then), I decided to have a nice cup of black tea! And what better to have than a surprise sample given to me by Azzrian: the Naughty Vicar!

The dry tea smells a bit fruity and rich. Mmmm.

Steeped, it smells exactly like some sort of familiar candy! Perhaps sour berry gummy candies? The $0.05 ones? I can’t quite place it, but it is SO familiar. And yay, it tastes true to the aroma! Not sweet, but it tastes like those candies, backed by a light black base (it might have been stronger had I steeped it longer than 3 minutes, but I’m SO wary of oversteeping right now).

This is pretty good! Not a tea I’d rush to go out and buy myself, but I doubt I’ll have any difficulty finishing it. Thanks Azzrian!

Boiling 3 min, 15 sec
Kay Kanada

Best. name. EVER.


yes I find it rather amusing as well.


Thanks Krystaleyn, its not for everyone but its a fun tea to try and yes Missy and Kay the name is awesome :)


I actually thought it was a pretty well done fruity black :) Also happy I didn’t oversteep it!


LOL yeah I see you have been over steeping a lot lately. I get distracted too easily myself at times.


Yes, I’ve either been distracted or selected a time that was too high. Sigh. Doesn’t make for a nice cup of tea, since I don’t add milk or sugar…

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drank Paradise Found by DAVIDsTEA
2221 tasting notes

Went to pick up the new teas that I’ve yet to try, and a pitcher of this was sitting iced on the counter. I requested a sample, and the girl pulls out two to-go cups and pours my roommate and I full glasses; apparently she was about to throw it out anyhow! Bonus :)

However…. we tried it and it was awfully tart unsweetened. There was the tasty flowery flavour I remember from when I brewed it hot, but also a great deal of tartness as well as a bit of a bitter aftertaste. Oh hibiscus :( We used to be friends.

Brought it home and sweetened the crap out of it with agave, as my stomach didn’t want a tart drink right now, and it improved greatly, although still had some bitterness coming out, which was a bit yucky. Oh well! Perhaps I’ll finish the rest of my packet off this way. Luckily I only have ~16g minus a cup’s worth left?


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drank Three Wishes Tea by DAVIDsTEA
2221 tasting notes

Another tea I’m finally trying!

The aroma of this one is SO delicious. Both the dry and steeped tea have this wonderful floral, rose petaly, juicy aroma that makes me drool (or as close as I am willing to get while in my office with other people).

Hmm, I steeped this one for only 4 minutes, but I’m getting a distinctly unpleasant oversteeped flavour from it. What is with me and screwing up teas lately?! It’s still drinkable, but bleech. Also, the floral aroma that I enjoyed so much is appearing in my mouth… and although I like smelling flowers, I’m not a big fan of eating them! Yes, definitely too floral in flavour for me.

Well, looks like another bust (my wallet says: thank goodness!). Another tea I’m happy to have tried, but will not be picking up again.

Boiling 4 min, 15 sec
Kay Kanada

Hmm this one has been in my cupboard for a long while (got it for Christmas) and I STILL haven’t plucked up the courage to try it. Now it’ll stay there for a couple months longer… :P


Haha, it’s not that bad, I just recommend a short infusion time (maybe 3 min) and also, don’t overdo it on the leaf – I may have done that. It might be more pleasant weaker, but it truly was kind of like drinking perfume. Unfortunate, because the smell is lovely…

Kay Kanada

Drinking perfume! I remember one time I had a really bad martini somewhere, and I told my friends how it tasted just like hairspray. They couldn’t understand how it could taste just like something I have never tasted. You understand me! (Well, that is, unless you’ve for some inexplicable reason have actually drank perfume.)


I don’t find it very floral BUT I treat it with kid gloves. 2.5 minute steep and a scant teaspoon per cup. Most of the DT blacks are pretty hardy, but not this one.


Oh, and I forgot – this has green tea hiding in it so boiling water isn’t a good idea. Took me a long time to realize that one. At least I think this is the one that has green tea. That’s what my other tasting notes say at least.


AHA! Uniquity, that’s probably a really good point! I think it does have green tea; I should definitely give it a shot at a lower temp before dismissing it completely. I even knew that, I just forgot.

Kay – I most certainly haven’t drank perfume! :D I don’t even wear it. But I mean, taste and smell are highly linked, so it makes sense that you can equate something you smell to the way something tastes… right?


Best of luck! The steeping parameters that are printed on this one are way off – I think even Davids forgot this has green tea. : )


Well it wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve heard their parameters to be totally off. I just tend to be really naive and go with what is suggested :D Glad I’m on here to get advice from people who clearly pay more attention to things than I!

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drank Jungle Ju Ju by DAVIDsTEA
2221 tasting notes

Finally trying this one! My first guayasa :) Brief not because I should really be working….

The dry tea smells almost earthy, and quite fruity. Yum.

Steeped, it smells peachy and fruity. So far so good!

This tastes better than I was expecting! I’m not a fan of candied papaya, so was wary of it in a tea, but this is pretty good! It tastes kind of earthy and green, a little bit bitter, and lightly fruity – I would go with peachy. We’ll see what sort of effect the caffeination has on me shortly…

Either way, a very pleasant tea! Probably something I’d pick up again only for the stimulant effect, though, as flavour-wise there are other teas I prefer.

ETA: Second cup, steeped for ages, is not really impressive. Weak and just a bit sweet. Not worth it. I don’t know if guayasa is one that doesn’t re-steep well?

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

I always resteep mine, but it’s never a strong cup!

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drank Cran-Blackberry Rooibos by 52teas
2221 tasting notes

Since I’m awake at a silly hour and intend to go back to sleep (yeah, I’ve actually already slept for 6h, woot!) and I wanted tea, I decided a rooibos was my best bet. It was a toss-up between some Tropical Tea Co. samples and this one, but for whatever reason, the berries won out!

The dry tea smells fruity and a bit tart (probably because of the giant cranberry), and I’m getting a touch of “rooibos” smell.

Steeped, I can definitely tell it’s a rooibos. There’s that almost-mintiness, and maybe a hint of fruit flavour. Only just realized that I steeped a cup’s worth in a >1 cup mug… oops.

Ok, this actually tastes better than I was expecting! I’m getting berry flavours alongside the less-potent-than-I-thought rooibos, which I would really prefer not to taste. It is kind of weak though, but that’s to be expected (and rather unfortunate, since I like my teas strong). If I use my imagination, I can taste the blackberry in this cup (there was a huge whole blackberry), but the cranberry isn’t terribly apparent, probably because there were only a couple teeny pieces this time. I expect my next cup will be the reverse, as I saved the large cranberry and a small blackberry chunk for it.

I’ll have to try it stronger next time, and although this isn’t a tea I would have picked up myself, I’m happy to tick off another of 52teas offerings in my tealog! Thanks for the sample, Amanda!

Boiling 8 min or more

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Somewhat regretting my decision to go with the Western-style instructions on this one, with 5 long infusions, but really, I was too tired to go through a series of short infusions today.

First infusion (205F/3min)
Smells floral and sweet, almost like honey. But gah! This does not taste good! Super strong, astringent, and somewhat bitter. Yuck :( Definitely regretting the long infusion times now :( It’s really unpleasant, but I can taste that it’s delicious underneath.

Second infusion (208F/3min)
Crap, more of the same. I can’t even drink it. This is so disappointing. I can taste a flavour shift but I can’t handle the astringency and bitterness.

Third infusion (208F/3min)
Again, I can taste a change in flavours but it’s so astringent/bitter I can’t handle it.

Fourth infusion (205F/3min)
Similar to the third.

Fifth infusion (202F/4min)
I might be able to drink this one…. but it’s still astringent and bitter.

:( I am bummed. All that effort for nothing (and on an expensive tea too), and I have no idea what I did wrong. I weighed out 5g of leaf (as instructed), used filtered water, measured water temperatures, and timed my infusions, and I’m going to have to throw out at least 4 of 5 infusions. This may be one of the worst tea experiences I’ve had :( The bitterness is lingering in my mouth even now and it is so unpleasant. Moral of the story I guess is to start with gongfu-style brewing, or at least infusions of 25-30s, not 3 min even if the instructions say to use that infusion time…

ETA: How can nobody else have had the same experience as I just did? Reading the tasting notes, someone even steeped it for 5 minutes! My infusions are disgusting; I can’t imagine anyone actually enjoying them.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

maybe try using less leaf or shorter infusions? I usually let my heavier teas go for 90 seconds the first time


Yeah, I’m going to go with much shorter infusions next time. I can tell that this is a good tea, but clearly oversteeped. :( You know, I think this happened to me with Dong Ding oolong from Teavivre too, so I guess I should have known better than to go with longer infusion times right off the bat.

Invader Zim

I almost never listen to the brewing instructions. I do for water temp but for steep time I typically do it by smell, even if the tea has only steeped for a minute western style I can tell it’s to my tasting by the way it smells. I find that if I do listen to the instructions from the company for steep time that I typically have an unpleasant tea experience.


I would go with shorter infusions times also. I need to revisit this myself because I recall I wasn’t too impressed by it either.

David Duckler

Sorry to hear your experience with this one. Dancong can be very temperamental, but this one is also very rewarding when you get it right. I am working on two things to make steeping easier and more clear this week. First, I am doing short videos on brewing techniques for each tea. Second, I am revising all western brewing instructions to be more like Gongfu brewing, where you use no more than 8-10oz of water at a time, and do something in the 15-20 second range for multiple infusions.

I think Invader Zim has a good point here- smell is the best indicator. Sometimes it is hard to put down a specific amount of tea or time, because you eventually rely on smell and appearance to know when a tea is ready. As soon as it is fragrant, you can pull the leaves out.

For Dancong, I recommended using a lot of leaves, as the traditional way of drinking in Chaozhou is to really push the tea to the strongest point that you can before you get bitterness. However, you don’t need to use as much if you want a more forgiving brewing experience. Three minutes works best in a larger pot, but I am going to restest this today and revise downward in my suggestions based on your experience. In a cup, you could easily do 30 seconds and be happy.

I hope that you have a better experience with your next round brewing this tea. It is definitely worth returning to. If you find yourself ordering again, remind me, and I will send along an extra sample to make up for the leaves you lost following my perhaps flawed brewing tip for western style. In the mean time, try very short infusions. It is easier to add time than to take it away.
Good Luck!


I love the videos! They really help me! I check the Verdant website for instructions for each tea before starting.

David Duckler

An update- I had to go brew this one to see how it performs, and my best experience western style so far today has been using a small 6oz cup and about 3-4 g of tea (dry they filled the cup about a third of the way up). I did 15 seconds on my first steeping and 20 on the following steepings. When I think about it, I guess that this really amounts to gongfu style brewing, but in a cup with a brew basket, but it definitely worked well. Three minutes was an unfortunate suggestion on my part which I have gone and changed.

Bonnie, thank you for the compliments on the videos. I am really excited to do a little brewing guide video for every specific tea on the site. I am going to start filming tomorrow!


Thanks for all the advice, everyone! I’m looking forward to a successful second attempt in the near future.

Invader Zim – I suppose I don’t go by smell because on numerous occasions, I’ve found that my delicious-smelling tea has next to no flavour! Perhaps it was with lower quality or older teas though (which these ones certainly are not!)

David – I really appreciate that you took the time to respond to me here! I’m new enough to brewing high quality straight teas that I often rely on instructions given by the company for at least my first attempt at a tea, mostly because my own attempts have usually fallen pretty flat. I also think that the videos are a great idea! I will definitely watch them for tips next time. I did previously watch your video on using a gaiwan, although I have yet to acquire one.
I will try brewing the tea as you suggested above, and suspect I will have a much better experience – I caught some lovely & unexpected aromas yesterday while pouring out infusions, and like I said, in spite of the bitterness/astringency, I could tell that there was something good underneath. I will definitely be making a second order very soon (and I’m so thrilled that I delayed it long enough to be able to order the spring tieguanyin!); I just was waiting until I tried the teas I purchased to know if I wanted to order more (or, if I wanted to try the new dancong as well). I’ll let you know when I place the order – a 5g replacement of the leaf from last night would be wonderful :)


It just occurred to me that some people may be wondering why on earth I was so dumb to keep with the 3-minute infusions after the first one was awful! Unfortunately, I’m a bit silly and like to a) compare infusions side by side and b) I can’t drink tea until it’s cooled a bit. So instead of infusing, drinking, infusing, drinking, etc., I pretty much infuse one after another into 5 separate cups, then trek up to my bedroom and drink them in order, going back to previous infusions to I can characterize differences between the two. Because these infusions all smelled delicious, I therefore had no idea that there would be a problem until the fateful first sip. So it’s definitely my fault in large part.

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drank Tazo Chai by Tazo
2221 tasting notes

Yum, hit the spot much better than that Red Rose from yesterday, mostly because I could taste the tea! I’ve always liked the Tazo chai though; it’s a pretty classic chai in my opinion. Had it with milk & sugar this morning (so a bit of a backlog).

205 °F / 96 °C

This is one of my favorite Chai teas.

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I have always been a tea fan (primarily herbals and Japanese greens/oolongs) but in the last year or so, tea has become increasingly more appealing as not only a delicious, calming drink, but as a relatively cheap, healthy reward or treat to give myself when I deserve something. I should clarify that, however; the reward is expanding my tea cupboard, not drinking tea – I place no restrictions on myself in terms of drinking anything from my cupboard as that would defeat my many goals!

My DavidsTea addiction was born in late 2011, despite having spent nearly a year intentionally avoiding their local mall location (but apparently it was just avoiding the inevitable!). I seem to have some desire to try every tea they’ve ever had, so much of my stash is from there, although I’ve recently branched out and ordered from numerous other companies.

I like to try and drink all my teas unaltered, as one of the main reasons I’m drinking tea other than for the flavour is to be healthy and increase my water intake without adding too many calories! I’ve found that the trick in this regard is to be very careful about steeping time, as most teas are quite pleasant to drink straight as long as they haven’t been oversteeped. However, I tend to be forgetful (particularly at work) when I don’t set a timer, resulting in a few horrors (The Earl’s Garden is not so pleasant after, say, 7+ minutes of steeping).

I’m currently trying to figure out which types of teas are my favourites. Herbals are no longer at the top; oolongs have thoroughly taken over that spot, with greens a reasonably close second. My preference is for straight versions of both, but I do love a good flavoured oolong (flavoured greens are really hit or miss for me). Herbals I do love iced/cold-brewed, but I drink few routinely (Mulberry Magic from DavidsTea being a notable exception). I’m learning to like straight black teas thanks to the chocolatey, malty, delicious Laoshan Black from Verdant Tea, and malty, caramelly flavoured blacks work for me, but I’m pretty picky about anything with astringency. Lately I’ve found red rooibos to be rather medicinal, which I dislike, but green rooibos and honeybush blends are tolerable. I haven’t explored pu’erh, mate, or guayasa a great deal (although I have a few options in my cupboard).

I’ve decided to institute a rating system so my ratings will be more consistent. Following the smiley/frowny faces Steepster gives us:

100: This tea is amazing and I will go out of my way to keep it in stock.

85-99: My core collection (or a tea that would be, if I was allowing myself to restock everything!) Teas I get cravings for, and drink often.

75-84: Good but not amazing; I might keep these in stock sparingly depending on current preferences.

67-74: Not bad, I’ll happily finish what I have but probably won’t ever buy it again as there’s likely something rated more highly that I prefer.

51-66: Drinkable and maybe has some aspect that I like, but not really worth picking up again.

34-50: Not for me, but I can see why others might like it. I’ll make it through the cup and maybe experiment with the rest to get rid of it.

0-33: It’s a struggle to get through the cup, if I do at all. I will not willingly consume this one again, and will attempt to get rid of the rest of the tea if I have any left.

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