Featured & New Tasting Notes


The first thing that I noticed when I opened my 1-kg bag of this (via Amazon) was how tiny the CTC leaf pieces were. They are so tiny! I can’t even steep it in my Beehouse teapot, whose filter has been fine enough for all my other teas besides rooibos. This made me sort of nervous about the quality of the tea. Actually, although the tea does suffer slightly from the leaf pieces being so small, it’s a good and satisfying cup with some character. A short steep is required, because the tannic spent-leaves taste comes out quickly; I recommend 2:30-2:45. I also noticed that as the tea cooled, the “tiny leaf” essence diminished; I feel like it was due to a genuine chemical change and thus it may be worth waiting a bit to drink.

Ntingwe Kwazulu is reminiscent of an Assam for its punch and overall feel, but it also has some Ceylon-esque briskness, making it more than just another PG Tips. Still, it lacks the smoothness of some other CTCs (e.g. The Simple Leaf’s American Breakfast) so it remains a good-to-great, not outstanding, tea.

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 45 sec

took this steeping advice and it really worked out well…the package the tea came in says to steep 4-5 minutes and, since it was new to me, didn’t want to oversteep the first taste…2-3 minute advice was spot on!..thanks

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Egh. it was one of those mornings when you wake up too early and you can’t fall back asleep… well for those deep sleepers out there i guess that is pretty unimaginable, and i am envious. But yes, it was one of those mornings. As a result I ended up eating three cream puff pastries… and was wanting something wheat-like but instead continued on my sweet tooth rage by brewing a fruity black tea.

I was automatically a little off put by the fact that the aroma was not too strong and there were no bits of real fruit in the loose leaf mix. After a slight steep you could smell the hint of apricot more than the peach… and the taste was more black than fruity. I guess that is good for me as those cream pastries were too sweet anyways, but if i grabbed this tea on a day I was craving a fruity kick of goodness I would have been disappointed.

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I used up the last of my sample today but didn’t have quite enough left for a pot. So I mutated it a bit and added some Samovar Russian Blend to it. I had a fixed car to celebrate (see below for details on that) and wanted to break the possible “curse-o-Samovar.” Plus I’d forgotten to put Lapsang Souchong on my GTC order and the uber-fantastic Daniel Mann added some to my order after noticing my oversight. More celebration! This is actually one of the best “mutant teas” that I’ve done — but hey, two yummy teas comprise this cup. It’s about 1& a half tsp LS and 1 tsp RC. TG

The car is fixed — I get to pick it up at 1:00! It had a bad computer and I’m still under warranty ::happy dance:: And since my insurance covers towing the grand total of this stress is $65. The $65 comes from the first shop it was towed to for them to say “we don’t know what’s wrong with it” which is exactly what happened the last time they looked at my previous car. Only back then they’d caused massive damage to my break system that could’ve killed me. So why did my car even end up there? My dad: gods bless him. He believes they’re great because they’re “Christian.” But I can’t get too upset since my Dad’s the one who took care of everything when my car wouldn’t start and he also let me drive his car to work for most of this week. When I found out that he’d towed the car to that shop and not Toyota I let him know I wasn’t too happy about it. I shall try and figure out a way to let him know tactfully that I never ever want any of my cars going back to that place. I’ll also be adding rental car coverage to my insurance policy asap.

Thank you to everyone who said a little prayer or sent me good vibes since Monday. Y’all are awesome! :D

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 15 sec

Phew – I’m glad that’s over with!!

Yes – massive damage that could have killed you should override religious affiliation in my book :) It’s hard to communicate to a parent “I know you love me and you helped so much but this might not be the best idea!!” Good luck!!!


Thanks! I think that I shall wait for sometime after Father’s Day to have that chat. ;)

Daniel Mann - Georgia Tea Co.

Oh, glad the cars better.


Thank you :) Toyota even covered the towing! And my dad brought up his error on taking the car to the first place and apologized, so we had a good dialogue about that — double win :D

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drank Rose Green Tea by Kusmi Tea
177 tasting notes

This was perfect with a berry scone as my birthday breakfast. The green tea had a nice asparagus flavor that highlighted the sweeter rose. It was a sample from a friend who had one pot’s worth left and decided to share it. And my “to buy” list multiplies threefold again…
Great if you want a floral green tea or something that you can smell brewing acoss the room. I’d like to say more but I’m aware my sample was a bit dated.

165 °F / 73 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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I do!


I’m just finishing up the infusion of 3 of these balls or PEARLS and am REALLY excited to try this!!!!

At first I could smell – ever-so-slightly – something that smelled fruity but like cocoa. This completely intrigued me!

While infusing…it smells a little like cocoa…but very slight. The wet leaves smell like Assam.

The taste is very unique. They mention ‘chocolate’ in the description…I would say it would be a dark chocolate because it is really bold and – well – dark. It’s not really sweet. There is a tad of bitterness to it but I am comparing that to a dark chocolate type bitterness.

I can ‘find’ the apple comparison they spoke of. And I can taste a bit of oak or other like woodsy type taste.

This is VERY Malty! Even in the aftertaste.

What a FUN tea! Nifty!!!!


Sounds like my husband would love this one! Also, I don’t know why, but I love any tea that comes rolled up in a ball. :)


I was just looking at their website. I love how they show the brewed color of the tea. This seems esp important for oolongs. They are definitely on my list to order from soon.


ha ha .. i want to try!


Just sent you a quick PM, Kristin…


Now I wish I had caved on this tea when I was ordering the Jasmine Yunnan!

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This is surprisingly incredible! I was afraid it was going to be herbally and/or boring but it’s a delight!

It sort of smells like Adagio’s Foxtrot with a little lime and sweet flower and less chamomile. Well, to the eye, there is a lot of chamomile, imo, but when you taste it – it’s just enough and everything else works well with it! The Cinnamon is barely there…but I think that is perfect- I think any more cinnamon and it would ruin what’s going on with the tisane!

Ahhhh! Very nice!

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drank Asian Mint by TeaFrog
951 tasting notes

This sample was a free sample as opposed to a purchased sample.

I forgot that when you place an order with TeaFrog they ask if you’d like to choose a sample, so I put samples of all the teas I wanted to try in my cart. I hadn’t picked this one because it’s a green/black blend, and I have a black/green blend moratorium in effect. But faced with the alternative of repeating a sample or trying something different, this was the most appealing of what was left.

I steeped like a green, per the instructions. And I got a minty flavored tea, where the mint is the most definite flavor and the tea flavor is mostly the duskiness of gunpowder. The liquor color is that light orange that’s between green and black, but I don’t really get a black tea flavor. I can smell it ever so slightly in the tea’s aroma.

There’s nothing wrong with this tea. It’s just that it’s not enough to make me break the green/black moratorium. If I were going to choose a similar tea, I’d probably pick the GM Vanilla Mint over this just because the vanilla adds a flavor and texture that appeals to me more than the straight mint in this blend.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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I am a lover of Lapsang Souchong, and of Taylors of Harrogate in general. This tea is pretty good. I don’t particularly love fannings in my tea bag, which this is, but there is a nice smokiness to this tea. I used two tea bags , covered while steeping, added a tablespoon of agave, no milk, and some ice cubes to drink it faster (I am a baby with excessive heat). I’m satisfied with how this came out.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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Weight Loss Tea
A Tea Dialogue in 3 PMs (paraphrased):

Rabs: Um, Daniel, I don’t know how to say this, but there was this big honkin’ chunk-o-fused tea thing in my Weight Loss tea sample. I thought you should know. Should I be worried? Do you know what it is?

Daniel: No need to be worried! What you found is called a Toucha ball.

Super-cool explanation follows regarding Toucha balls.

Rabs: Hooray! I’ve learned something new. Thank you :D

::runs back to teapot and adds the Toucha ball for her second steep:: TG

180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec
Daniel Mann - Georgia Tea Co.

Heh. I think you got a couple more balls in your tea that I’ve sent.


Hooray! I’m off to finally do my second steep with the Toucha ball (yup, that photo confirms that it was a Toucha ball that made my teapot go ting!)


Janefan’s great — she does some great alcohol/tea combos :) I also just realized that AmazonV also did the Camel’s Breath review and that’s toucha as well. I’m now super-excited to try this!


Oooh. Wonder whether I got a chunk o fused thing in my sample? (I just got my beautiful prize teapot in the mail today and it had a sample of this with it. Dan the Mann!!)


You must let us know if you got one!

I’m on my third steep: it’s so yummy! After the second infuson I looked in my teapot and the little ball was all floofy and just ready to break apart. I forgot to look after the third, but I’m probably going back for a fourth.

Oh, I like the nickname “Dan the Mann!”


I didn’t have any Toucha Balls in mine…
I know there’s a joke there somewhere…lol…


For some reason I haven’t tried this one yet. It taunts me from the tea drawer. I’ll have to peek inside mine and see if I have any Toucha balls (whoa- I think there’s a dirty joke in there somewhere). Maybe I’ll be brave and try it soon.


The Touchas in this mix look more like a miniature version of a giant telescope building/observatory with a flat bottom. Or an igloo without a doorway (except with a little ledge near the top dome).


A few years ago I found one of those in a green tea sold by a local shop, and I tossed it because I didn’t know what it was while swearing at the fact that it had added to the weight of the tea so I’d got less for my money. Of course I’ve kicked myself about that ever since I had my first pu-erh toucha. I’d actually got MORE for my money and threw it away. Ignorance is dangerous.


Ouch — so sorry to hear that :( I’m super grateful for Steepster since I think without this community I would’ve tossed it and never purchased this tea again (not thinking about the weight/rip-off issue, but of contamination instead). Since I have Steepster I set it aside and asked. :)

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drank Ginseng Oolong by Teas Etc
911 tasting notes

Mmm, I like it. Light, a bit woodsy/reedy, with a hint of something that is almost like licorice. Oh, I just read the company’s notes and it does have licorice in it. So that makes sense! Anyway, I’d totally buy this tea – it’s tasty.

The only other ginseng oolong I’ve had was King’s Oolong, which I also liked. I can’t remember that quite enough to accurately compare but I think this one is a bit milder but perhaps a little rounder flavored? Maybe.

175 °F / 79 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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This tea is so much more than the tin says! It says Chinese Black Tea with honey flavor, but the fine print says there is stone fruit and bergamot as well. This is delicious with NO milk and No sugar! So glad I got this one. The bergamot is mild and lovely, having none of the synthetic aroma that scalds your nose. If you like sugar in your tea (and I usually do) this would still be a delightful tea. I am thinking it would be great iced as well.

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

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drank Maple Sugar by Fava Tea Co.
302 tasting notes

I love this tea. But, I do feel that it has a sweet spot of brewing temp/amt of tea/amt of water. I don’t know what I did to make it bitter that one time, and I don’t know what I did to make it great today (and the first time I tried it). When you get it right, it’s amazing.

almost 2 tsp/11 oz

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 15 sec

this is one of my faves from Tea Guys.

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drank Nectar by McNulty's
6770 tasting notes

Not my favorite McNulty’s Blended Tea but still decent. This is very bold. The color is tremendously dark! There’s a bit of bitterness along with a bit of sweetness to it. Altho I’m drinking this in the afternoon I think it would be a great morning tea! A nice wake-up one!!!

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First “Thanks” TeaEqualsBliss for sending me so many wonderful tea samples.

I really enjoyed this tea. I taste the earthiness of the Puerh first and at the back end the sweet and creaminess of the strawberry. I delicious tea will have to try iced.

Great tea…Can’t wait to try the rest of my samples.

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

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This is a pleasant Russian caravan that I think I got for $3.50 per two ounces. I usually don’t drink Russian but my mother made me smell it and I think I nearly shoved the stuff up my nose. It has a rich, spicy, hardwood aroma that promised a lot. When I brewed it, it leaned more towards redwood and earth than spice but it was still very good. I’ve gotten three good infusions from it and haven’t tried a forth. It’s not very complex but at a cheap price it could be a good casual drink. Be warned about the store: They’re aptly named, meaning they seem more concerned with spices and coffee than tea. They sell scoops from giant jars that you take home in cheap plastic bags sealed only with a twistie-tie so have some good canisters handy. They also didn’t know about steeping time or origins for anything. Still worth a sample or two if you’re passing though Philadelphia.
Photo 1: The color is a lovely red-brown
Photo 2: This is what I mean by “cheap plastic bags.” The tea inside is actually their Sakura Sencha, but they didn’t even right names on either of them. /=

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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So lately I’ve been so thankful for sample sizes… Not that the tea I’ve had is bad, but I like trying things before spending money on full-sized mysteries. I was excited about this kind because it had vanilla in it.. And you know how I like my vanilla tea. First steep was pretty darn good. This was a mix of green tea and vanilla pieces. The actual sweetness comes in the swallow of the tea. It was really powerful in the after taste.. So much I said, “wow!” while standing alone in my kitchen. The tea is quite good, but not consistent. I don’t think I’ll be buying this one again.

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Absolutely delicious Oolong! This is my third tea in the Oolong Sampler from Art of tea and is by far my favorite up to this point. This tea is what I like about oolongs. It has a great golden color. The aftertaste does not last too long and it doesn’t punch you in the mouth like some oolongs. I strongly recommend this tea!

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drank Sinharaja by Golden Moon Tea
1258 tasting notes

Hi, I’m supposed to be doing something else…

I thought a while ago that I had finished off the generous gift Doulton sent me a little while ago, but then I found this one in my basket. So forgotten and overlooked, the poor little thing.

The label says something about a caramelised finish, molasses character and ripe berry notes. That certainly sounds interesting. I’m a little concerned about the molasses there, as it sounds like something that might get a little overpowering.

It smells nice though. Berries. Check. Molasses. Check. Especially the latter.

It’s certainly very smooth and not as sweet as I had initially thought it would be. The molasses is sort of hovering at the top of the flavour near the palate, making the mouth feel sort of nice and round, if you know what I mean.

On the sides, branching out into the cheeks I get the berry notes. As with the aroma I can’t really tell what berries they are, but they are definitely berry-y.

Finish? Not really very caramel-y, I think. Not obvious caramelisation, I’d say, much more subtle-like. It comes out if I take bigger sips though.

Perhaps it can be brought out more. GM suggests adding a touch of sugar (and cream, but I’m violently opposed to cream in tea. Milk. Always milk. Cream is for coffee), so I tried that. I don’t really count that as much of a success. The caramel-y molasses-y notes are too obvious now. I liked it better before.

I’m not completely blown away by this, but it’s indeed one that ranks pretty high for me. If GM was a company available to me, I would consider a purchase. It isn’t, though, and on the other hand it’s not one that I feel I so desperately need to own that I find it necessary to involve anybody in helping me. Maybe if in the future I found another of their offerings that I also really wanted, I might do that, but not for the sake of just one tea that I could substitute with Kusmi’s Caramel which is also quite lovely.

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malomorgen sent me this one! Thanks so much!!! :)

This Black and Green Tea Blend is certainly YUMMY! I can smell the black and green teas and the strawberry…almost candied.

I can taste the strawberry and vanilla adds the creaminess to it…lovely. This maybe the the first time I have had tea with mistletoe in it…and it’s “A-O-K” with me!

YUM! This is great


I thought mistletoe was poisonous?!?


(Or is that just to livestock?)


Auggy: I was thinking the same thing.


uht-oh! LOL


Here is some info I found

I also googled and it said it depends on the type of mistletoe, I guess…


Hmm, so I suppose if it is processed, you are okay!


lol did u go read before trying it or after? i didn’t have this one in a while. was one of the first teas i bought…

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drank White Licorice by Golden Moon Tea
237 tasting notes

Yay, back home and back to sampling real teas!

I pulled this one out to start with something that has the potential to show how a gentle white tea can be married up with a flavor that could easily overpower it. I opened up the packet and got a strong whiff of licorice/anise, which though I’m not crazy about it, I do like it enough to find appealing. Also a little worried though, because I know how strong licorice can get (for some reason I got addicted to the really salty licorice they have in Sweden on a trip there last year, and kept popping the little lozenges all day).

I think they’ve done a good job of balancing the flavors here. I taste the white tea, and I taste the licorice, and they are amicably shaking hands. Neither is shoving the other out of the way to grab the spotlight. The licorice does a better job of leaving an aftertaste, but it’s not overpowering at all, just a light and lingering sweetness. Nice one.

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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Currently enjoying a cup of my custom blend!


I love the rootbeer-ish, cocoa-ish, peppery-ish, floral-ish flavor of this cup. It is so “out there” and so ME. Very different, unusual, odd, but flavorful and delish! I love it.

190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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I couldn’t wait any longer and finally opened this tea today.
When I opened the canister and dumped the bag of tea into it, I smelled the dry leaf. Surprisingly, the leaf didn’t give off a lot of smell. I saw all the small leaf particles and realized that this was also a fukamushi. (Well, I wasn’t sure until I read other notes on this tea).
I ignored their instructions suggesting 195F water…that seemed too high to me, especially for a first steep. I used 1 TBS leaf, 4 oz water, and 155 temp, and steeped for 45 seconds to 1 minute.

The color was a pleasing light green, and I would say the_skua described the tea very well; I’ll do so again but in layman’s terms, haha!

Basically, it had a very pleasing, fresh aroma, and tasted of fresh cooked greens (without that yucky vegetable flavor that you get from greens…though don’t get my wrong I do love steamed mustard greens). Anyway, the flavor seemed to be a standard Japanese green, but I detected no bitterness, astringency, and a very lingering/filling sweetness that was very different than the other 2 shinchas I’ve tried. I really liked this sweetness, as it tasted like the sweetness of a perfectly ripe melon (no, the tea was not melon flavor, but the sweetness was more like that of a fruit), rather than the extremely intense but short-lived sweetness I’ve tasted in the other shinchas.

As the_skua mentioned, other than the very fresh greens flavor (vegetal as many call it) and that accompanied sweetness, the flavor wasn’t complex or deep. That being said it was delicious! I’m not rating this one quite as high as the other shinchas I’ve tried, as they felt like eye-opening “WOW” experiences, and this did not. However, that may only be due to the fact that I tried the other shinchas first, and had more of an idea of what to expect from this. Even though I wouldn’t say the taste surprised me and made me say “WOW”, I would still say this is an excellent tea; if you’re on the fence about trying a shincha, then I can honestly say this is a good decision.
The reason I say that is because of the amount you get and the price…both of which are better (better price, more tea) than the other 2 I bought in the past couple months. If you’re new to shincha, I’d suggest going with this one; just don’t steep at 195F! (Lower temps always bring out more sweetness and are a lot more friendly to novices like me).

This tea also held up well to 3 more infusions, the sweetness being accompanied by a very slight but pleasant bitterness in the 2nd-3rd infusions, and in the 4th the sweetness was the main flavor. I increased the temp each time (170, 180, near-boiling) and decreased the amount of time I steeped the leaves.

Just so everyone is aware, I did win this tea, but the rating I am giving really is my opinion; if I had spent the money on it, I would have thought it money well spent.

I may buy more of this shincha this year (I think when I’ve finished this, I’ll have had enough shincha for the year!), but I already have my eye on a couple of other offerings by Maeda-en that I hope to get in the coming months.

155 °F / 68 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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drank Earl Grey Special by TeaFrog
382 tasting notes

Thought I’d take a break from my morning chocomate and try this again. I think I liked it more this time around, the black tea seemed more prominent and there was more of an essential Earl Grey-ness underlying the other lemony flavors. I like how the lemonyness doesn’t make my throat scratchy like it does with the Devonshire Earl Grey.

Gotta reiterate the whole thing about drinking it hot though. The cooler it gets the more the Earl Greyishness recedes, leaving a strong overriding lemon taste that DOES start scratching my throat.

Pretty sure I’m going to get more of this. In the hypothetical future when I am not on tea lockdown and about to leave for Japan.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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It has been a couple days since I have had this, mainly because I’m running really low but also because I have so many other great teas right now. This tea is something else. Earl Grey was one of the first teas that I really, really loved but I have had such a hard time finding the Earl Grey that was made for me. I either find them too light on the bergamot, too much like perfume, or just generally gross due to the inferior tea base sometimes used.

But this tea, my fellow Steepsterites, is my perfect Earl Grey. It has not been often in my tea experience that I’ve come across a tea that I think about so often that it is almost borderline obsessive. That is what this tea does to me. The only other tea that ever came close was the Red Dragon by Adagio that Erin so generously send my way in my early
Steepster days. That tea, however, could not earn the elusive rating of 100 because it was a blend of Earl Grey, Irish Breakfast, and Ceylon. I was afraid that any of the aforementioned teas would not be as amazing separate from the group.

To this day, I have yet to find a tea that will receive the rating of 100. I’ve thought all along that I would only give such high honors to one tea per category/type of tea, which still leaves room for lots of teas rated 100. I am definitely sure now, that this tea has earned its slot as the first 100 rated tea from me and my 100% Perfect Earl Grey.

To quote Rabs – TG.


I’m so happy for you (hooray for perfect teas!) and giddy that I got quoted! :D

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