543 Tasting Notes

drank Pumpkin Spice Chai by Tazo
543 tasting notes

I found this on clearance at Kroger for less than $2 because the box was smushed. I’ll try any chai at that price, especially by a well-known brand, so in the basket it went.

The dry bag smells better than the tea tastes. Lightly pumpkiny with the standard chai spices and licorice. However, once it steeps, it acquires a weird, sharp flavor that I can’t put my finger on. It’s like someone let the cloves get dirty or go bad or something. I’m definitely not a fan. Even with milk and sweetener. The saddest part is that the pumpkin flavor in it is actually well done. Most companies screw that up, but not this time. But the spices are just weird.

While it’s not good, it’s not terrible enough to throw out. In order to use it up, I’ve been blending it half and half with Harney & Sons’ Chai, which saves it. The H & S version is spiced and strong enough to make it actually pretty tasty. Like pumpkin pie made by someone more interested in the spices than the actual pumpkin itself.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Licorice, Pumpkin

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 30 sec

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I broke down and bought a sample of Republic of Tea’s Hi-Caf Cinnamon Toast tea and this came with it as a free sample. Along with a sample of their Pumpkin Spice, I should add.

As I’ve said probably a dozen times before, I do not like rooibos. But! I was won over by Tazo’s caramel apple rooibos, so I knew I had to give this a try.

The rooibos aftertaste that I hate so much is completely muted by the flavors of apple and caramel. Apple is the strongest taste, sort of realistic also sort of not. Kind of like those green apple lolipops with the caramel marbled into them. The caramel aspect follows, and it’s a very creamy caramel. Not a toasty caramel. I definitely taste some vanilla, too. This is definitely a dessert-like treat, but because I am biased toward things with caffeine, I probably wouldn’t buy this.

…Though it would be nice to have on chilly winter nights.

Flavors: Apple, Apple Candy, Caramel, Fruity, Vanilla

Boiling 5 min, 30 sec

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Hey, Steepster! Been a while. I’ve been super burned out from work and life in general, but of course, I’m still drinking tea every day. Just not logging it.

I don’t know what it is, but this fall, the flavor I’ve been obsessed with is toasted marshmallow. It was caramel last fall, and I think lavender before that. Anyway, this is a well-reviewed tea and I’ve been curious about it for a long time. I got a sample a long time ago, but it was stale, so this is my “first” official review.

I know the creator of this tea only used 10% lapsang, but that stuff is so potent. The aroma is basically straight-up pine campfire with a hint of sweet vanilla at the end. Since getting it, I’ve tried it both iced and hot. Hot seems to make more sense with the smokiness, but either way, the flavor is just like the scent. Strong smoke with a soft, natural vanilla hidden underneath. You really have to taste for it, which is sort of disappointing to me.

I’m very tempted to go back to Adagio and get some plain vanilla to mix into this. Hmmm…

Flavors: Campfire, Pine, Smoke, Vanilla

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

Hey, hope you’ll be able to find some time to relax from your job more often!

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drank Brown Sugar by Tea Leaf Co
543 tasting notes

This is the last of my freebies from Tea Leaf Co.‘s Instagram giveaway. I had tried it before, but not reviewed it. I’ve been so busy between work and taking care of an injured kitten my mom found. (Who is doing great and almost back to normal now.) She’s a little Tasmanian devil and can be seen ad nauseam on my Instagram. Link’s on my profile.

Now, this is a more darkly roasted oolong than what they used in Soul Good. The leaves are the color of dark chocolate, mixed with gorgeous scarlet safflower petals. It’s very pretty. The aroma reminds me so much of brown sugar oatmeal. The nuttiness of the oolong really plays that up. It’s definitely breakfast-y.

The brown sugar aspect is comforting and a little nostalgic. There’s something about it that kinda reminds me of pancake syrup. You know, the American kind with hardly any actual maple in it. All this pairs very well with the roasty but not smoky oolong. It’s a little on the hearty side, and while I’m drinking it iced, I feel it would be great hot on a cool fall morning. Definitely recommended.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Burnt Sugar, Nutty

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 15 sec

You mean there’s actually pancake syrup with maple in it? ;) MMMMM!

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drank Soul Good by Tea Leaf Co
543 tasting notes

This was another freebie I won on Instagram. Yay!

The first thing I want to mention about this tea is that they actually used a nice oolong base. Some companies are bad about using low-grade, cheap oolongs since they plan on overpowering them with their flavorings anyway, but this is not the case! The dark green, semi-glossy leaves are rolled into cute little nuggets. They’re blended with a generous amount of minced dried ginger root and chunks of apple.

The aroma is heavenly. Bright, sweet, and apple-y with a heavy note of ginger ale. Now, the description calls this an apple cider oolong. I know when people think of apple cider, they often think of cinnamon. But no, it’s just apple, oolong, and ginger.

The flavor lives up the scent. It’s a well-rounded, slightly nutty, slightly floral oolong with a very natural and realistic red apple flavor. I can practically taste the peel! The ginger is present in the forefront but not overpowering by any means. I’m enjoying it over ice and it is so refreshing. I know I’ll be making an order with Tea Leaf Co eventually, and when I do, I’m definitely going to have to get this again.

Flavors: Apple, Fruity, Ginger

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec

MMM! I’ll be over in … 11 or 12 hours? :)

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drank Irie by Tea Leaf Co
543 tasting notes

I won this tea on Instagram in a giveaway! Thanks a bunch, Tea Leaf Co! They let me pick out three blends from their site, and so far I have been very impressed! It was super hard to narrow it down to three. Seriously. There were like eight I wanted.

I had to pick the coconut chai. There’s no way I could resist. Upon opening the envelope, I’m greeted by a powerful and delicious aroma that reminds me very much of Zhena’s Gypsy Tea’s version. However, this decadent blend is mixed with orange peel, which I don’t think I’ve ever had in a chai. It’s sliced very thin, but in large pieces mixed throughout with coconut shavings and the usual chai spices. The cardamom is only broken up slightly, leaving almost whole pods here and there. Mmmm.

I’m having it iced, with a splash of 1% milk. The cinnamon and ginger are in the forefront, making me think of a gingerbread man. Clove and coconut follow, and finally I taste black tea and a tiny hint of the orange peel. Stephanie from Tea Leaf Co warned me that this chai wasn’t super coconutty, which is true, but I don’t mind one bit. It’s wonderful.

This is going on my re-order list… especially since Tea Leaf Co. has a sleepy-time valerian tea. I have to try that!

Flavors: Cardamon, Cinnamon, Cloves, Coconut, Ginger, Orange Zest

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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drank Creme Brulee by Simpson & Vail
543 tasting notes

Ok, here’s my re-written post. Apparently my iPhone refreshes pages whenever it comes back from the lock screen. :/

Hey, this one didn’t get chocolate-ified in shipping! Yay!

Now, as far as this being a creme brulee tea goes, I’m not sure they hit the nail on the head. However, it is a great first-thing-in-the-morning treat. I’m getting notes of vanilla, dairy, maple, lightly toasted caramel without the butter, and something that took me a minute to recognize. It was hookah tobacco! Not hookah smoke, just the super-sweet, almost fruity scent of the tobacco itself. I wasn’t expecting that at all, but it’s plain as day to me. So, basically, this is very interesting and tasty… but I wouldn’t call it creme brulee.

I also want to mention that the caffeine content is very nice if you’re dragging your feet.

Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Cream, Maple, Molasses, Tobacco, Vanilla

4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

Hate when that happens

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drank Violet by Simpson & Vail
543 tasting notes

EDIT: I have contacted S&V and they are replacing my entire order – this time double-bagging and ziplocking. I feel a little sad that they had to do this, but I’m glad I contacted them. Thank you, Nichole and TeaBrat for encouraging me to say something. I have trouble standing up for myself sometimes.
I am facing a tea tragedy. Violet teas are one of my absolute favorites. I basically convinced myself to place my most recent order on the fact that Simpson & Vail makes a violet tea.

However, S&V sent their teas to me in rolled up paper bags, like the ones you get coffee beans in. They were by NO means airtight. I knew when I received the box that they had poorly packaged my order because I could smell it through the cardboard. Sadly, one tea in particular, Strawberry Cupcake, had contaminated basically the whole box. It absolutely reeked of Tootsie Roll chocolate.

So, I can tell this is good underneath it all! The black tea base isn’t too bitter or astringent. The violet is mild, but very much present. It doesn’t taste like I’m drinking soap or old lady perfume. And the little purple flowers mixed in are just lovely. But! There’s also a very distracting and unwanted chocolate taste. Thus, my tea tragedy. :(

Rating based on what I could taste beyond the contamination.

Flavors: Floral, Flowers, Violet

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

Sad! I wonder why they sent the teas in rolled up bags. That doesn’t seem right. Have you sent them an email about that?


I’m definitely considering it. I don’t mind getting those kinds of bags when I go to tea shops, but they’re really bad to ship with!


You drank my cat! :P (her name is violet)


they have always used those bags to ship everything, I am not sure why. It was never a problem for me but in this case, I think you should say something.


I did and have already heard back. I’ll be editing my post when I get a second.


I’m glad they are replacing the order for you. :)


Yeah, I love S&V’s teas for the most part, but they’re the reason why I keep plenty of tea tins on-hand. Those paper bags just don’t cut it, especially if you’ve got a strongly scented tea.

Guess I was lucky; I had Strawberry Cupcake and Violet in an order together and I didn’t have any issues with cross-contamination. Might be because I’m close enough that I get my order the next day? I don’t know.

John Grebe

Very glad to hear the tea company went out of its way to address the problem. Personally a vendor being very quick to fix a mistake/problem causes me to think even more highly of them than had they just always gotten it right the first time.

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drank Earl Grey Oolong by The Tea Table
543 tasting notes

Hey guys! Sorry I’ve been so quiet – I’ve kinda been on hiatus. It was getting to the point where I was stressing over finishing samples before reviewing them, so I basically said “Screw it, I’m going to enjoy my teas how ever I want!”

So, this is actually the second earl grey I’ve tried by The Tea Table, and I have been appalled both times. What in the hell are they using for bergamot? It tastes like straight up sunscreen. I couldn’t even finish it. And this is an oolong? It’s as dark as black tea in both leaf and liquor. There are no lovely woodsy, nutty, or flowery notes.

The Tea Table is so hit or miss. Though I’m starting to think it’s mostly miss.

Flavors: Orange, Sunscreen

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 24 OZ / 709 ML

Glad you see you around! Sometimes you have to take a break, though. I totally get that.


LOL @ sunscreen!


You know why a tea is marked “not recommended” when the flavors listed are orange and sunscreen. Yuck.

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I absolutely had to have this after seeing it advertised on Instagram. Caramel AND a massive amount of caffeine? Perfect for a girl who has to get up at 7:30 but refuses to go to bed before midnight.

Last night, I went out with my friends and saw Purity Ring. They were fantastic, of course. Just all-around gorgeous show. But this morning was considerably less fantastic. I went about making this iced to keep myself upright at work. The packaging says that each tea bag contains 165mg of caffeine. A little intimidated, I thought I had only used 2 bags for a 24-ounce container. But when I scooped the bags out after steeping, I discovered a third one. Oh no.

But there was no going back! I had run out of time and had to get to work. Now, I’m going to have to try this again before I can get a proper feel for the flavor. However, even with 3 bags, I agree with what others say about the caramel taste. It’s good, but it’s not as strong as I tend to like it. If you’re only in this for the caramel, I suggest trying a different brand. The tea itself is SUPER potent. That is some bitingly bitter black. Of course, that has a lot to do with my preparation, though. I’m sure if I had used 2 bags instead it wouldn’t be so powerful.

Now, about the caffeine! It’s enough to make me queasy, and I’m a lover of espresso shots. I couldn’t even finish it, while I usually destroy my morning tea long before lunch. My hands shook pretty much all day. My handwriting was terrible. It was just too much. 2 bags next time, Tabby, never 3.

All that said, I’m really interested in a few of the other flavors now that I know how strong it’s going to be and can adjust. The coconut and cinnamon toast ones are calling my name!

Flavors: Bitter, Burnt Sugar, Caramel

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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Quiet, strange, and in love with the world of tea. Living just outside of Atlanta. Cat lover, electronic music geek, balcony gardener, and collector of fossils. On the hunt for the perfect tea in each of my favorite categories.

I prefer black teas, but I’m trying to broaden my horizons. My favorites tend to be yunnan tips, earl grey, chai, and pretty much any black tea from Fujian, China. My favorite add-ons are plum, cinnamon, sage, apple, coconut, raspberry, lychee, bergamot, osmanthus, cucumber, lavender, vanilla, cardamom, ginger, and caramel.

I’m shy about green tea, curious about white, and learning to love oolong. I hate rooibos and anything with orchid, fennel, or jasmine.

Since joining, I’ve traded with: Kaliska, QueenOfTarts, LiberTEAS, JustJames, Spencer, Ninavampi, Jillian, Teafreak, KeenTeaThyme, and RachanaC (Rachel)-iHeartTeas.

You can assume that I’m preparing my tea using the Western method. I use zero-calorie sweeteners and in the hot months, I drink my tea almost exclusively iced.


Decatur, GA



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