2559 Tasting Notes

drank Keemun by Swan Sisters Tea
2559 tasting notes

Queued Tasting Note.

Ok, last tasting note of the night for realsies this time!

This is from the February Amoda box – it’s the last one from that box that I’ve got to try. I saved it because after doing some exploration with other Keemun blends I’ve kinda concluded that it’s not really a tea type for me. And I’ll be honest, it is kind of a relief (especially on my wallet) to have a whole ‘class’, if you will, of tea that I can essentially just write off…

But givin’ this one a go anyway ‘cause I’ve got it now and I might as well. It’s actually much lighter in flavour than I expected; primary flavour notes are smoke, some kind of sweeter bread, honey and raisins. The smoke in particular is very strong – and that part, at least, I like. It’s just that, with everything else, it’s just not so great. Why do I always have to pick up on the raisin notes in Keemun too? I know they’re sometimes present in other tea types, but I usually don’t notice them. Such is not the case with this class of tea…

I also thought that this one was a little bit floral; that was kinda nice, but weird with how smokey it was. Who wants to drink gently smoked flowers? I’m not gonna rate this one ‘cause I think I’m maybe a little biased about it.

Final, non-tea related note for the night: BB Can houseguests are currently talking about the pros/cons of bagged milk versus milk in the jug. I know bagged milk is a Canadian thing, but I just have to point out that I live in Saskatchewan and I’ve never actually seen bagged milk in person in my entire life. The entire concept of bagged milk is SUPER weird to me and I 100% emphasize with the Canadians in the Big Brother house who, like me, live in provinces where bagged milk isn’t a thing.

I know that’s it’s more cost effective to make/produce and buy, and easier to transport and all that jazz but it just weirds me out so much. I would NEVER have a ‘bag of milk’ in a pitcher in my fridge. I know that realistically it’s no different than a pitcher of, say, orange juice – but it seems kind of unsanitary? And I’m totally being unreasonable and irrational about the whole thing but it’s SO WEIRD. Common ’mericans – back me up here! If I was in the BB house, I think having to have bagged milk would likely bother me more than being on slop. I need Zach to get in on this bagged vs. jug milk debate! He’s from Saskatchewan like me; I’m like 95% sure he’d share the same anti-bagged milk opinion I have.


I am so confused. Is it bags or jugs you don’t like? Last paragraph goes back and forth.


Hahaha when I moved into my first apartment, my mom did the first grocery shopping for us. I lived with one other Canadian, two Americans (technically one didn’t live there but he was dating one of the girls and best friends with the rest of us so he was always over), and one girl from Peru. Since there was so many of us, my mom bought us bagged milk (plus that’s what we use at home anyways so it’s what she is used to buying). Anyways, for three weeks, my roommates (except the Canadian) thought my mom just neglected to buy us milk which would be weird since it’s kind of a basic grocery. And when they asked about it, I spaced and forgot it was a Canadian thing and would always just be like “what are you talking about? The milk is in the fridge. Like it’s right in the front!” It wasn’t until they watched my Canadian roommate make a bowl of cereal that everyone realized what was up.


Wow, I did not realize that story would be that long

Roswell Strange

@Marz – That’s what I get for writing so late at night. Went back and edited the last paragraph. It’s definitely bagged milk that freaks me out though.


I remember having bagged milk when I was a kid, but it’s a lot more rare now. And I’m in BC, so I don’t think it’s just an Out East thing, I think it’s an age thing too. :)

It IS weird. But you can get clips to close it, and you leave the milk in the bag which then goes in the jug. I’ve never seen anyone emptying the milk into a jug, which… that would be gross.

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Sipdown (132)!

Queued Tasting Note.

Thank you MissB for the sample! I did a blind tasting with this one, and based on the obviously minty smell I decided to cold brew it because iced/cold brewed mint teas are so refreshing! And really just perfect for the nice Spring weather we’ve been having.

The green base used in this is pretty mild, and really takes backseat to the added flavourings. I thought that maybe it was a little bit nutty in addition to the vegetal taste, but mostly just like a regular green. Visually, I’m guessing it’s Gunpowder? It looks pretty similar to most gunpowder teas I’ve ever seen. I’m seeing now that, in the reviews, you guys think it might be a greener oolong? I definitely didn’t think it tasted like oolong…

This has some solid, kind of “mid range” spearmint notes to it. I say mid range because they were strong but not enough so to cover up the base entirely or mask the other flavourings. Mint can be unwieldy if it’s disproportionate and this one didn’t reach that level for me. This had a very weird finish for me; and it’s pretty much only in the finish that I tasted the weird flavour notes.

They were definitely quite peppery; like cracked black peppers and I also tasted some subtler gingery notes as well as maybe fennel? Something a little bit sweeter, anyway. Honestly my first thought was that this sample had been contaminated by something else it was being stored with because I was pretty sure this was just meant to be a high quality Moroccan Mint blend – but I couldn’t really recall having anything Chai-like where I was keeping it, so I didn’t know what was the ’cause of the weird flavour notes. I was actually kind of shocked when I finally looked up the tea/read the description because I was so sure this was just meant to be Moroccan Mint. Turns out I was very dead on with calling this one peppery.

As for the bergamot, though, I just don’t see it! Or, taste it I should say. Nothing about this gave me any indicator of citrus – and bergamot is usually such a distinct flavour, too.

Overall, this one wasn’t bad – but it sure as hell was weird! I’m going to conclude, now having read the description, by slightly altering my initial ‘closing thoughts’: It’s basically an unconventional/non-traditional take on Moroccan Mint. Worth a try; not worth stocking up on.

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Sipdown (133)!


Last tea of the night; I’m sporting a pretty killer migraine and my left eye is twitching like it’s at a rave so I’m thinking it’s time for bed. That’s a shame too; the BBCan houseguests just got all the supplies for a pool party, so you know that tonight’s gonna be pretty interesting…

I bought this bagged tea in December… Of 2013.

Back then, I REALLY liked it but since then my tastes have changed so much and I’ve hardly touched it at all. Even now, it’s taken me like two hours to get through three quarters of the 12 oz mug I made myself. And, it’s not that it tastes bad, because it doesn’t, but it’s just so unoriginal and underwhelming now. Forgetting loose leaf momentarily, I’ve just been exposed to bagged tea that’s SO MUCH better. And I love Stash, I really do, but this blend can’t compete. The strawberry is almost too tart (hibby I blame you) and what’s even up with the rooibos!? It’s peppery, woody, and buttery – all the things I hate in rooibos, with the exception of medicinal. Thank God it doesn’t go there – all four ‘negative rooibos traits’ would be a nightmare.

But I’m done with it now though; I brought all the teabags but this one (so I had something to drink/review/record final thoughts with) to work for my Tea Pleb coworkers to drink, and all those teabags I passed their way are officially GONE now! It took less than a week for my coworkers to sipdown 100+ teabags!

I saved myself so many dull cups of tea.

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Prepped Gong Fu today while I was making my lunch for work and chopping up peppers for supper. I got four really nice infusions from this one, but stopped infusing after the fourth steep because the flavours from this one were definitely declining and I was almost done with my meal prep anyway.

I found that this style of prep absolutely brought out the maple flavour more than I’m used to tasting with this tea; it was very, very sweet and quite natural tasting. Reminded me a lot of good maple syrup. Oolong was very oaky, and the pecan notes were accented with other nutty notes from the base like walnut. Rich and decadent overall.

I did have one bad infusion though; the second one. I let the tea steep for much longer than I should’ve because I was distracted by my cooking (multi-tasking is not my forte) and the tea came out really, really astringent. That infusion was basically a write off.

I’ve had this one set aside in the kitchen for weeks now waiting for a chance to steep it, so I’m glad today I had time to! Probably gonna hold off on having it for a while though; this is one of the Butiki oolongs I’m definitely a fan of, but never stocked up on when Stacy announced she was closing shop…

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Sipdown (134)!

Thank you MissB for the sample! I’ve never actually seen Twinings sachets before, and this was a pretty cool flavour. I like sachet teas a lot; you’ve basically got the quality of loose leaf, but the convenience of bagged teas. What’s not to love?

This was definitely very nutty; I tasted the hazlenut but more so I thought it was rather peanutty? Except, I don’t think that’s actually one of the ingredients but I swear I was totally reminded of chocolate coated peanuts which are the bomb. The chocolate itself was pretty good; reminded me of baker’s chocolate because it had a very slight bitterness to it. Not a lot of distinct flavours from the base itself; maybe some super light malt notes?

Sadly, I made the mistake of letting the last 1/4 of the cup sit while I showered for work and when I came back it was a cup of unholy bitterness; so drink this one hot!

Big Brother Canada Live Feeds have been up since Wednesday night, so there goes my life pretty much. Honestly, the only reason I haven’t posted tasting notes and stuff since my last day off (Tuesday) is pretty much I’ve just been watching feeds non stop. When Big Brother’s on, it kind of rules my life. THIS IS MY SHOW.

I’m so disappointed; so many of my picks have turned out to be problematic as fuck (homophobic, misogynistic, and racist) – it’s BB15 all over again. UGH. However, some of them (Sarah and Naeha) are absolute iconic Goddesses! Especially Sarah; she’s everything I could have wanted from a house guest – she’s strategic, liberal/open minded, and actual BIG fan of the game, aware of her privilege, LGBTQ, hasn’t said anything homophobic/ableist/against anyone’s religion/sexist/racist (it’s so sad this has to be said, though), and is just PERFECT in every way. I think she’s an overwhelming fan favourite right now…

But here are my House Guest standings:

Absolutely Love: Sarah, Naeha

Like: Brittnee, Sindy, Jordan, Bobby

Impartial/No Opinion Formed: Bruno, Pilar, Zach, Johnny, Kevin, Ashleigh

Dislike/Totally Hate: Willow, Godfrey, Graig

…And Risha doesn’t really matter currently ‘cause she’s evicted. But she probably would’ve fallen under “like” if she was still around. Disappointed in Godfrey/Graig for being misogynistic slut shaming douchebags (and racist in Graig’s case) who instantly formed a “Bro Pack” mentality and rather unoriginal formed a guys’ alliance when they were two of my favourites really early on. BOO ON YOU! Some of the other guys have kinda come close to being this shitty; but these two are the worst IMO.

There’s a reason Live Feeders have taken to calling him Craigslist…

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Queued Tasting Note.

Cold brewed this one ’cause I totally see it being amazing cold brewed!

It’s really good cold brewed, but still very, very similar to what the hot cup tasted like. That is to say, I still think it tastes like shoving a bouquet of peonies in your mouth – but in a really good way. People who think it tastes like shoving a bouquet of peonies in your mouth, but in a bad way, should likely avoid this one as a cold brew; in the same way I loved it/was excited about it, you’ll be miserable.

And, it still 100% reminds me of those pink jellybeans which also 100% remind me of Easter, which 100% reminds me of Spring so really, this tea is still 100% a hit for me. Add up all those perfect scores and you have a tea valued at 400%, but not really – ‘cause math doesn’t really work like that. You get the idea though; this is absolutely the best tea from the Spring Collection. Anyone know when it leaves? I definitely want to pick more up before it’s gone!

Side Story; more than just Easter there’s a very specific childhood memory I associate those little pink jellybeans with – when I was around my sister’s age or maybe even younger, like seven or eight, we’d spend Easter vacation at my Grandma’s house – and on Easter day they’d have a special Church service. They always hid the pink, blue, purple and nasty yellow Easter jellybeans in the church pews and we’d go through and find them and it was really fun.

Then we’d get home and during the hour we were gone the Easter bunny would’ve been to Grandma’s house and we’ve have a really big, giant Easter Egg hunt in her massive lawn and garden (she lives in the country, sorta. so there’s LOTS of space to hunt). One year all the hidden eggs were chocolate and it was so nice out that they’d all melted – and even though that was disappointing, it was still a blast hunting for them. Sometimes in the summer when we came down to visit for a few weeks we’d find the eggs we’d missed during Easter break. Found out several years later than the “Easter Bunny” was actually my cousin Luke (who was only three years older than me). He always stayed home from Church ‘cause his Dad was very, very anti-religion and wouldn’t allow him to go and during the time we were out he took advantage of that and hid all the Easter stuff for us. I can’t even imagine my sister, who is ten, doing something that big/wide spread without any help. To set it up for one person would’ve been monumental – but for three (my siblings and I)!?

Easter’s not my favourite holiday (Halloween is my favourite) but I sure love it a whole lot! This year my sister’s staying with me for a few days and even though she doesn’t really believe in the Easter bunny anymore, I’ve still gone all out putting together a giant basket for her and getting all the stuff to do a decent sized (I live in a basement suite; so not a ton of room to work with) egg hunt for her!

Team Easter!

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Sipdown (135)!

I just realized that all the tea I’ve had today has been Green Tea; definitely not doing that on purpose. This one comes from MissB – she definitely sent a lot of green tea from her travels; and while it’s pushed me outside of my comfort zone, it’s been fun trying all the different blends!

I buggered this one up though; I started steeping it, and then promptly forgot so it got a really long nearly twenty minute steep. As a result, I imagine the taste is not really a shining example of how it’d normally taste. It’s quite bitter, the grassyness of the green tea cuts in very harshly, and there’s a bit of a drying mouthfeel at the end of the sip. However, I can also taste some well rounded, sweet cherry notes and some floral notes as well, so I see how this would be really good if prepared properly.

For whatever reason, cherry when paired with green tea always reminds me at least a little of bubble gum though. There must have been a kind I chewed a lot as a kid that has some cherry flavour to it but I’m not sure which; something drilled that association into me though! I think Hubba-Bubba and Bazooka Joe were my picks all the way up until like grade nine? After that, I don’t recall having a ‘Go To’ kind of bubble gum – I just bought, and still buy, whatever’s accessible and cheapest. Maybe I’ll have to revisit those brands and see if they taste like cherry to me?

But actually; all things considered this could’ve come out A LOT WORSE. Even with bitterness, it’s still pretty drinkable. That is to say, I’m totally finishing it. But, gonna hold back on rating it. I’m obviously not tasting it like I should be.

Today’s word of the day is…

Tizzy! A tizzy is “a very excited and mixed up state of mind”.

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Queued Tasting Note.

Made this one to drink during my tattoo appointment; I measured out porrly though and it was really watery and disappointing. Boo.


I promised information on getting my tattoos done on Tuesday, so here it is! I went in a little bit nervous, but mostly really excited! I think I’ve mentioned it before in other tasting notes, but when I visualize myself, how I’ve always visualized myself – is with tattoos.

Getting my arms shaved was kinda weird; and my artist was like super, super tender about it. And then he put the stencils on and I checked them out in the mirror to make sure everything was laid out how I wanted it – when we actually started, I was so braced to be in a lot of pain. I know tattoos are supposed to hurt so I was ready to white knuckle through that pain; much to my surprise it didn’t feel like much of anything. In fact, it was really relaxing. I imagine that acupuncture would maybe feel similar. Honestly, taking the surgical tape from the bandages off the next morning probably hurt more.

So far everything’s healing up pretty nicely; I’m definitely making sure to follow all my after care instructions – these tattoos are gonna be with me the rest of my life; I want to make sure they look good! There’s a small bit of very light scabbing on the Tabula Rasa one but after checking several different websites it looks to fall very comfortably within the range of what is normal. I’m already getting a little sick of explaining to people what they mean, though. I explain Tabula Rasa (means blank slate, and to me means “Fresh Start” and symbolizes my moving to Saskatoon and starting fresh) and they all go “Oh!” and nod because they can at least emphasize with that. I explain Camellia Sinensis to them and they just look at me very blankly…

I’m very excited to go and get more work done though! Next up is probably either going to be the series of Shel Silverstein illustrations I want done (the Candle from Invitation, bearded man, and one of the panels from The Thinker of Tender thoughts) or getting the actual Camellia Sinensis plant done on the same arm my CS word tattoo is; but that’ll absolutely be a bigger piece since I plan on getting something that’ll cover most of the length of my forearm.


Will we get pictures when they are all healed up? I have had a custom tattoo design that I got from a comic artist years ago but 1) I’m not sure I want it bad enough for it to hurt and 2) it’s pretty complex so I have to find a really good artist to do it.

Roswell Strange

Will definitely post pictures when they’re healed :)

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Sipdown (136)!

Still trying to decide on whether I’m gonna renew my Amoda subscription; hashed out some of the pros and cons earlier today on Steepster chat. Right now I’m leaning against it; primarily because the three boxes I received in my gift subscription were pretty ginger/jasmine dominant – case in point this tea or the Ginger Jasmine green pearls from the January box. I’ve liked that I’ve been exposed to teas I would’ve otherwise ignored, but the ingredient diversity isn’t as strong as I want…

This was/is my daily cold brew – I’m finishing it off now. Plan was to drink it last night, but that didn’t happen ‘cause of the super ridiculous 16 hour sleep I had. It’s alright; but just your typical jasmine scented green. Not overly fake, I’ll give it that much – but I could always pop into one of my local stores like DT or Tea Desire and get something comparable for probably a better price.

Stumbled upon this store today: http://eclecticeccentricity.bigcartel.com/

EVERYTHING IS SO PRETTY AND GORGEOUS! I want all of it. Literally all of it. I put together a mock cart with a few things, trying to justify buying myself some pretty jewelry – my other favourite ‘online jeweler’, if you will, is NO WHERE near as affordable. But ugh; Pounds to Canadian Dollars is still so much.

Even if I just bought my favourite piece overall, with shipping, it’d be nearly $40! I know it’s really, really nice jewelry, but man I can’t afford that! I cry because I want pretty things and I can’t have pretty things!

PS. If anyone’s curious, this is my absolute favourite thing on the site:


Flavors: Jasmine, Vegetal


Pretty!! Gotta love unwanted tempations. I might go to the one of a kind show tomorrow. Ugh. I don’t need the wallet drain heh. But I do need to buy bday presents. Decisions :/


Wow, those earrings are pretty!


Wonder if we put together a group order for pretty things to get the free shipping how much the shipping would be then to send to you in Canada or to me in US… :)

Roswell Strange

@Nicole – The Steepster community should totally take advantage of group ordering/shipping for stuff other than tea. Other than the drain it’d have on my wallet, I don’t think there’s anything bad about that idea ;)


Yeah, I hear ya. It would be yet another thread I’d have to unsubscribe from. Tea people just have excellent taste. :)


Yeah, I hear ya. It would be yet another thread I’d have to unsubscribe from. Tea people just have excellent taste. :)


I love the space themed ones!

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Sipdown (137)!


Yesterday was file maintenance; I got home at about 2:30PM after starting work at 5:00AM (you all know the deal; I don’t sleep the night before FM because it’s too hard to go from a Midnight bed time to an 8PM one) – fell asleep sometime around five last night; and woke up today at 9AM – so that’s 16 hours of uninterpreted sleep? Ick.

I just finished drinking a chawan of this – yes my shiny new chawan! It was so awesome making my matcha in an actual chawan; and my roommate definitely made fun of me gingerly holding it – because it’s shiny and new and EXPENSIVE – but also trying to have a VERY firm grasp on it, because it’s shiny and new and EXPENSIVE.

I picked this as my first thing to use in my shiny new chawan because I knew it’d be a ‘sipdown’ – sipdown in quotations because the actual last two cups/bowls worth are going to a Dietitian who works at Sobeys with me. She found out how into tea I am from Chef Darcy, and we had a really long conversation about tea yesterday after my File Maintenance shift; she’s pretty big into green tea (I don’t want to get stereotypical here – but she’s a Dietician, and I’m about 80% sure she got into green tea ‘cause of the ’health benefits’) and really doesn’t like herbals/flavoured tea. I offered to bring her a sampler of some of my favourite straight/scented teas for her to try loose leaf, ‘cause she’s never had it before other than “To Go” DAVIDsTEA.

But then something really weird/unexpected happened – they (the dietitians and our “event room” coordinator – the guy who plans out when Chef Darcy is gonna come in and teach cooking classes, among other things) asked me if I’d be interested in teaching a tea class! I, of course, said that I’d be honored to do so, but that I wasn’t entirely sure if I was qualified to do so. But they said it’d be great and it could just be like a “Tea 101” thing or even, if I wanted to do one this summer, how to “Cold Brew” or make Iced Tea sort of thing. Man, I don’t even know how I’d go about doing that… Talking/teaching people that is; I definitely know my way around how to do a good cold brew.

If I do end up doing this class (either as a one time thing or possibly one class a month or something like that) I’d definitely need help prepping for it; it just seems like a monumental thing. I’m talking to some people in Steepster chat right now and it’s making me feel a little more confidant about doing it though; right now the most ‘together’ plan seems to be doing a “Cold Teas” sort of thing in the summer with recipes/steps on how to do cold brewed teas, iced teas, and tea sodas. It’s definitely an area I know well; and I know that whatever I do (if this ends up happening) I’m going to be encouraged to use as much stuff that we sell and if this was the class I ended up doing I know I’d be able to use almost entirely stuff we sell: club soda, sugar/stevia, and some of the fruity teas we carry. While most of what we carry is bagged tea, we have a decent selection of loose Twinings and Tea Squared products, and I actually really like the Tea Squared tisanes.

So we’ll see how this all turns out. I’ll keep everyone updated because, if I do end up doing something then I’m sure as hell gonna want some input from the community here.

As for this morning’s matcha milk; the coffee was definitely the dominant flavour, with some softer mousse-y chocolate notes and cream notes. It was good; though ultimately this is one of my least favourites matchas from the last Red Leaf order I got (the only one I disliked more was Cheesecake, at the end). Not gonna be something I reorder, but this one was fun to have around, and I really hope Brooke (the dietitian) likes it!


aw that is awesome! excited for you :D



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My name is Kelly. I’m a barely twenty tea drinker and reviewer living in Saskatchablah, Canada. I started drinking loose leaf fairly casually a little over a year ago, and at some point between then and now that ‘fun little hobby’ turned into a serious, serious obsession.

Typically I drink flavoured blends more that straight but one of my mini goals this year is to get that ratio to a more 50/50 level. I do a daily cold brew, and have at least (but usually a lot more) two hot cups of tea every day. Naturally I lean towards black or white blends, but I WILL drink everything; the last half year or so I’ve been challenging myself by further exploring Oolong and Pu’Erh which are the tea types I know the least about overall.

My default for preparation is Western Style with zero additives (the exception being matcha which I drink in milk with no additives); so unless I mention otherwise you can assume that’s how I’ve prepared my tea!

Favourite flavours/ingredients: Pear, Lychee, Cranberry, Cream, Melon, Pineapple, Malt, Roasty

Least favourite flavours/ingredients:
Lemongrass, ginger/“Chai” in general, raisins, overly vegetal, chamomile

I also have a severe allergy to mushrooms; as such I do not drink Kombucha teas!

Currently exploring/looking to try: Straight Pu’Erh or Dark/Roasted Oolong, Sweet Potato flavoured blends.


Saskatoon, SK, Canada



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