1233 Tasting Notes


I’ve been craving some straight black teas and have pretty much “wiped out” that selection from my cupboard, but I did still have some sampler packets stashed away. Decided to brew this one, heathen-style (western) this morning, as I just CBA to pull out all the gong fu stuff. Using this for “a raisin-y tea” from the prompt list.

It has a lovely brewed aroma. Smells like oranges, spice, graham biscuits and a subtle floral rose. The flavor is malty with a bit of that “sweet ’n sour orange sauce BBQ” flavor I often taste in Chinese black tea. If I let it settle across my tongue and focus past the umami and citrus, I get some baked bread and golden raisin notes. There is a faint whisper of rose near the end of the sip. The sip also has a lovely mellow smokiness to it. The tea is thick and coating, with a very slight astrigency toward the end of the sip and aftertaste.

It’s a lovely cup. It’s been a while since I enjoyed a Chinese black.

Flavors: Astringent, Bread, Citrus, Floral, Graham, Malt, Orange, Raisins, Rose, Smoke, Spices, Thick, Umami

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

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I’m using this tea as my “health” tea for the April prompt list. I don’t really have any teas around specifically promoted for health (that marketing gimmick doesn’t do a lot for me) but I do have some specific herbs that I’ve found work well for me for certain ailments so I try to keep some teas around that will fit that purpose. This is one of them.

This is a strong ginger tea, which makes it verge on being a bit spicy for my spice-sensitive self, but the hibiscus and citrus oil help add a little depth. Usually I take it plain, but I’m at the dregs of the bag where a lot of ginger has settled, so tonight I’ve added a dollop of honey. Mmm.

If I’m coming down with a cold, I find the Vitamin C from the hibi plus the ginger on the throat a good combo. But more commonly I’m dealing with bad GI issues directly related to my chronic migraine, and I have a migraine tonight. My doctor says I really have to treat both the head and the GI at the same time to have any chance against the migraine, so strong ginger tea has become a go-to.

Flavors: Citrus, Earthy, Ginger, Hibiscus, Orange, Spicy, Tart

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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I brewed this up this morning for the monthly prompt “drink a pu’erh tea.” I bought these back in 2018 at a co-op Derk told me about located in San Francisco, on a trip to visit my friend Todd.

I’m just not hugely a fan of mini tuo shou… so far all that I’ve tried have pretty much tasted the same to me. It’s not bad, but not really my thing, either. I used a whole mini tuo in 12 oz. of 205F water and let it steep somewhere between 5-10 minutes. There is a bit of that “marsh water” flavor I’ve never been fond of, but it leans more mineral and smooths it out a bit into more of a petrichor note, which I find more appealing. The expected dank, wet earthiness is present, and just a hint of a peppery smoke.

Flavors: Earth, Mineral, Pepper, Petrichor, Smoke, Smooth, Wet Earth, Wet Moss, Wet Rocks

205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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Using this for the sipdown prompt “A tea the flavor of your favorite jelly bean.” Yup, I’m one of those “black licorice jellybean” people. My grandpa used to buy bags of only black licorice flavored jellybeans, thinking they were safe from the grandkids… alas, they were not safe from me. (Sadly, he always knew who had eaten them…)

This bag smells delightfully like black licorice from the dry leaf aroma. I’m fairly certain that was what I was hoping for when I ordered the sample size.

The tea steeps a deceptive red color (there is hibiscus in the blend, which seems an odd choice in a licorice tea, and I’m one of hibi’s few fans…) Sadly the strong licorice aroma of the dry leaf is lost in the steeped cup, due to the hibiscus, which is coming out strongly on the nose.

The taste… huh. Well, I like hibiscus and I like black licorice, so I’m okay with this… it tastes like a weird combination of both. The hibiscus base does create a sort of thick and syrupy mouthfeel that does work well for the licorice notes, but it has such a strong fruity/tart flavor that just doesn’t really match. The result is a little black licorice, a little sour cherry. I was hoping the included chili wouldn’t be noticable, but my spice-sensitive palate is whollaped at the back of the throat by it in the aftertaste.

In concept, this should be something I’d like. Chili aside, I like all the pieces to the puzzle… but those pieces just don’t go together for me. If this didn’t have the hibiscus and chili, it would be right up my alley! I really wanted a strong OOMPH black licorice tea that was herbal that I could enjoy at night. I’ll be able to finish the sampler fairly easily (there really aren’t that many cups in it considering the giant star anise pieces) but it isn’t a tea I’d order again.


Flavors: Fruity, Hibiscus, Licorice, Spicy, Tart, Thick

205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

This, uh, does not sound good to me at all. Hahahaha.


I was right there with you when you said ‘black licorice jelly bean’ but this tea sounds disappointingly muddled.

Mastress Alita

Yes, I was really hoping for “black licorice jelly bean” but the base and spice ruined it. Maybe one day I’ll come across my perfect black licorice-flavored herbal tea!

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I am shocked and appalled with myself that I haven’t left a review on this tea yet, since it is a favorite cupboard staple. I was sure that I had… but upon searching my Steepster.txt file of tasting notes, it was the “red box” Yorkshire Tea that I had reviewed. I know some people have a clear preference for one over the other, but I like both!

Using this for the sipdown prompt “Tea from a British company.”

Steeped, this tea has such a quintessential aroma of autumn leaves and spices. To taste, it is bold with more of an astringent bite than I typically care for (I even shortened my steep time compared to my typical for blacks, but I guess I need to shorten it more!). However, that astringency does make this ideal for “British style” milk-and-sugar tea. I get a strong maltiness mixed with autumn leaf pile, a dash of cinnamon, and a faint citrusy aftertaste.

While I don’t normally sweeten tea, a drizzle of honey worked wonders on the astringency of the cup, and after that I decided to go sans milk. But I may make a latte in the future.

I love this stuff to make sweet iced tea during the warm months!

Flavors: Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Biting, Cinnamon, Citrus, Lemon, Malt

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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New month, new sipdown prompts!

It is with a sad heart that I pulled this tea out and stuck it over in the “Sipdown Corner” because it is one of my favorite Bird & Blend teas, but I haven’t seen them reblend it since the days they were still called Bluebird Tea Co. (which is still on the packaging). I may never see it again, once it is gone… but it isn’t getting any younger, so I know I should just bit the bullet and sip it down while it still has flavor. I’m using it for the prompt “a caramel tea” (though it could also fit "tea from a British company, but I undoubtedly have other too-old B&B teas that I should get through…)

The smell of this tea, both in the leaf and brewed, is intoxicating. I may have never had Treacle Sponge, but the pastry-like aroma that is a little buttery, a little caramelly, a little almondy, and a little cherry is so nice. Like gmathis’ Chocolate Orange cup this morning, this is a tea that leaves the empty cup still smelling like magic.

The brewed flavor is sweet, a bit of a buttery backbone with a caramel/vanilla flavor, and a hint of nuttiness and fruitiness. It is better after it has cooled; too warm, the base sencha is a little overly vegetal. That calms down and the sweetness shines once the cup cools down.

I will enjoy this bag for its final days!

Flavors: Almond, Butter, Caramel, Cherry, Creamy, Nutty, Sweet, Vanilla

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

Hopefully you’ll be able to find a replacement someday! Here’s some interesting ones I found https://oldbarreltea.com/products/new-mexico-box


According to the new tea wall e-mail today, Treacle Sponge is back on the tea wall! However, I’m not sure if some of these will actually be “seasonal” part time teas, as some of the teas on the list seem seasonal…


*or will be on May 8th anyway…

Mastress Alita

Hmm… Does that make up for Lazy Boy, though? ponders this

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I purchased this sample at a co-op in San Francisco that derk told me about, back in… 2018, I believe? (I don’t think I’ve even been able to get back out to California, where my best friend lives, since that time…) I drank a cuppa western yesterday morning, but decided to gong fu brew it this morning (What?! Two gong fu sessions this month?!) Just enough leaf left for one more western brew, as well.

Using as my (final!) March sipdown prompt, “a tea with spinach/artichoke notes.”

180ml (mini pot) | 10g | 205F | Rinse/25s/30s/35s/15s/15s/15s

The leaf after the rinse has a strong sour vegetal aroma (an amalgamation of kale, spinach, and basil), and the leaf has expanded so much it fills my tiny pumpkin teapot! The tea on the other hand smells sweet and floral… lilacs, honey, and cream. The flavor tastes a bit perfumy on the first infusion, with a strong sharpness at the end of the sip and a coating, somewhat oily floral left on the tongue. Second steep was the same, leaving me to question if I just haven’t figured out leaf ratios for gong fu correctly since my western cup was smooth smooth smoooooooooth without any sourness or overly-obnoxious floral. Third steep was a bit more mild, but still more astringent than I prefer… the floral, however, had subsided a bit and vegetal notes started to come out, a bit of a spinachy/garden peas note. On the fourth infusion I decided to cut back the infusion time rather than increase it, which helped some, but I still wasn’t a fan of the thickly floral aftertaste.

I finished out the water I’d boiled at six steeps. Perhaps I botched this gong fu session, but I preferred the western cup, which was a very smooth cup with that lovely lilac cream aroma, with a warm garden peas/spinach vegetal note followed by honeyed cream and soft lilacs, and absolutely no sour or astringent notes. Rating is based on the pleasant western brew rather than this lackluster gong fu session. I’m glad I still have enough leaf left to do another western brew cup!

Flavors: Cream, Floral, Garden Peas, Honey, Lilac, Mineral, Smooth, Spinach, Vegetal

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

Looking back at my old note, and reading yours, I should’ve tried this western! Not all oolong are best in tiny teapots. Happy Belated, btw!

Mastress Alita

Thank you!

I seem to have it in my head that I typically am “doing tea wrong” because I prefer to western brew over gong fu brew, and that certain tea types in particular (like puerh or oolong) really must be done gong fu. I think this is proof I need to get out of my head so much! (Or I need to figure out how to “gong fu better,” heh.)

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I have a large bag of this from 2018, still sealed… sealed too well, as no matter how hard I tried after cutting free the top, the resealable part would not separate! I had to cut it off to get to the tea, so hopefully I can finish this off quickly before the “roll the top down and clamp” doesn’t do the job anymore. For the March sipdown prompt “a favorite pancake/waffle topping.” (I actually wanted to go with butter, which I always slather on in copious amounts before adding any other toppings, but I have a lot of older maple teas right now to get through…)

The last few genmaicha 52Teas blends that I’ve had recently from around this time period fell very flat on any flavorings and just tasted like plain genmaicha, but this one has such a strong maple aroma that the whole room smells lovely! There is definitely a potent maple flavor to the tea, which is actually coming off with a slight alcoholic taste to it… I wonder if the bag was sealed so tightly it just needs to air slightly? It’s still nice though, with a very sweet maple flavor lingering on the tongue after the sip. The roasty and nutty flavor of the genmai tastes really nice with the maple! They are very complimenting, rather than the genmai note overpowering everything else.

Flavors: Alcohol, Maple, Nutty, Roasty, Smooth, Sweet, Toasted Rice

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

Oh, my – I’m sorry to hear about the difficulty you had with the seal! Hopefully you have something you can store it in that will keep it safe from the elements until you finish it.

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drank Butter Flower by white2tea
1233 tasting notes

I got this as a sampler in a very long ago teaware order from teaware.house back in 2018. I figured from the name that this would be a floral-leaning oolong, so I decided to brew this gong fu style this morning for the March prompt “a floral tea.”

180ml (mini pot) | 7.5g | 205F | Rinse/20s/25s/30s/35s/40s/45s

The leaves after the rinse smell strong of bitter melon and lilac flowers, and the rinse liquor smelled similar, with a stronger floral/muscatel presence. On the first steep I’m getting aromas of wildflower honey, stewed fruits, and a mix of a raisiny musctatel smell with bitter melon. The first infusion tastes strongly of medicinal bitter melon, with a pungent and biting bitter aftertaste. The aroma was already smelling more mellow by the second infusion, with a nuttiness coming forward. The tea tasted of syrupy floral honey, raisins, nuts, and stewed fruits, with the edges mostly smoothed out now and none of the face-scrunching bitterness of the first steep. As the tea cooled, a soft lilac florality settled into the aftertaste. The floral notes were more pronounced in the third steep: mostly lilac, but also a bit of that “grapey” jasmine note and an aftertaste of lavender. The last few infusions were quite mineral and floral. Steeped a total of 6 infusions. Plenty of floral, never got any butter. As far as oolongs go, I found this one not unpleasant, but a little meh.

Flavors: Biting, Bitter, Bitter Melon, Floral, Fruity, Honey, Jasmine, Lavender, Lilac, Mineral, Muscatel, Nutty, Raisins, Smooth, Stewed Fruits

205 °F / 96 °C 7 g 6 OZ / 180 ML

Based off of those darker fruit notes, sounds like this has oxidized further over the years. I was indifferent to this one, too.


No butter?! That’s a tragedy with a name like that. The flavour list order of “biting, bitter, bitter melon” drive the point home further though, lol.

Mastress Alita

Well, the flavor list always arranges all the inputs in alphabetical order, which maybe makes those things seem more prominant than they were. I had a really awful first infusion, and the rest was fine.


Yeah, the alphabetical order doesn’t do a great job capturing what’s actually most prominent (wasn’t changing this, or the ingredients list, in the works?). In this unique instance, it conveys (by chance) the tea profile’s evolution throughout the session, mirroring your detailed tasting note well. :)

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drank Rosé Royal by Lupicia
1233 tasting notes

I was going to use this for “a floral tea” on the scavenger hunt this month, but after drinking it again, I realize it doesn’t taste like rose at all (there are some rose petals in the blend, but they appear to be decorative rather than a flavor element). Then I realized this is “Rosé Royal” and not “Rose Royal”… I’d left the accent off my spreadsheet and assumed it was a rose tea from the name, hahaha. So instead I’m using this as “a tea that makes you happy” because it definitely fits for that!

I’m actually really sad this is one of the teas that never made it over to the selection when Lupicia moved from California to Hawaii, because I really like this one and am going to miss it! I can’t drink alcohol at all due to my chronic migraine condition, so I love teas that have a sort of alcohol flavor to them. This one has a dry/effervescent alcohol taste, a bit like a champagne or white wine, with a really sweet strawberry fruitiness. I’ve only had it hot in the past, but decided to ice this batch and am finding it’s very smooth that way, with some of the astrigency I remembered from the base mellowed out in the cold tea, but still with that lovely fruity strawberry/dry alcohol taste. Very refreshing!

Flavors: Alcohol, Champagne, Fruity, Malt, Smooth, Strawberry, Sweet, White Wine

Iced 8 min or more 7 g 32 OZ / 946 ML

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Hi! I’m Sara, a middle-aged librarian living in southern Idaho, USA. I’m a big ol’ sci-fi/fantasy/anime geek that loves fandom conventions, coloring books, simulation computer games, Japanese culture, and cats. Proud genderqueer asexual (she/they) and supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. I’m also a chronic migraineur. As a surprise to no one, I’m a helpless tea addict with a tea collecting and hoarding problem! (It still baffles me how much tea I can cram into my little condo!) I enjoy trying all sorts of teas… for me tea is a neverending journey!

Favorite Flavors:

I love sampling a wide variety of teas! For me the variety is what makes the hobby of tea sampling so fun! While I enjoy trying all different types of teas (pure teas, blends, tisanes), these are some flavors/ingredients I enjoy:
-Sweet/licorice root/stevia
-Bergamot (in moderation)

Disliked Flavors:

There are not many flavors or ingredients that I don’t like. These include:
-Bananas/banana flavoring
-Hemp/CBD teas
-Smoke-scented teas/heavy smoke flavors (migraine trigger)
-Perfumey teas/extremely heavy floral aromas (migraine trigger)
-Gingko biloba (migraine trigger)
-Chamomile (used in blends as a background note/paired with stronger flavors is okay)
-Extremely spicy/heated teas
-Medicinal flavors/Ginseng
-Metallic flavors
-Overly strong artificial flavorings

With the exception of bananas and migraine triggers, I’ll pretty much try any tea at least once!

Steeping Parameters:

I drink tea in a variety of ways! For hot brews, I mostly drink my teas brewed in the western style without additions, and for iced tea, I drink teas mostly brewed in the cold brew style without additions. Occassionally I’ll change that up. I use the https://octea.ndim.space/#/ app for water-to-tea ratios and use steep times to my preferences.

My Rating Scale:

90-100 – Top tier tea! These teas are among my personal favorites, and typically I like to keep them stocked in my cupboards at all times, if possible!

70-89 – These are teas that I personally found very enjoyable, but I may or may not feel inclined to keep them in stock.

50-69 – Teas that fall in this range I enjoyed, but found either average, lacking in some way, or I’ve had a similar tea that “did it better.”

21-49 – Teas in this range I didn’t enjoy, for one reason or another. I may or may not finish them off, depending on their ranking, and feel no inclination to restock them.

20-1 – Blech! My Tea Hall of Shame. These are the teas that most likely saw the bottom of my garbage can, because I’d feel guilty to pass them onto someone else.

Note that I only journal a tea once, not every time I drink a cup of it. If my opinion of a tea drastically changes since my original review, I will journal the tea again with an updated opinion and change my rating. Occassionally I revisit a tea I’ve reviewed before after a year or more has passed.


My Cupboard on Steepster reflects teas that I have sampled and logged for review, and is not used as an inventory for teas I currently own at the present moment. An accurate and up-to-date listing of my current tea inventory can be viewed here: https://tinyurl.com/xjt9ptx3 . I am open to tea trades (within the United States only!) at this time. Note that I will not trade teas that I currently have in a quantity less than 50g (samplers, 1oz packages, etc.) or any teas that are currently still sealed/unopened in my cupboard.

Contact Info:

Feel free to send me a Steepster PM, or alternatively, check the website URL section below; it goes to a contact form that will reach my personal e-mail.


Idaho, United States



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