556 Tasting Notes

drank Winter by Adagio Custom Blends
556 tasting notes

I know I still have one last Teavivre oolong to review, but I am in the mood for something strong, smoky, and spiced.

I blended this tea with good intentions. The idea of a lightly smoky caramel chai seemed like heaven when I was adjusting the ingredients. 70% decadent caramel, 20% gentle vanilla, and 10% lapsang souchong. Just 10%! Literally the least I could add. Then it’s topped with ginger and cardamom. If I could have added cinnamon, I would have, but I ran out of options.

When I opened the pouch, a familiar but unexpected scent hit me. Barbecue. Yep. Something about the sweet caramel aroma mixed with the lapsang’s smokiness smells like ribs. Ribs and cardamom. Oh. Oh no. What have I done?

However, the flavor is not as scary at all! I added a splash of milk and a little sweetener. It really is a nice caramel with a finish of vanilla, braced by ceylon and campfire. The cardamom and ginger don’t shine through too strongly, unfortunately. The lapsang definitely does add a sort of “meaty” taste to it. Like well-done bacon. If I could blend this again, I think instead of the lapsang, I might go with plain cinnamon tea. Hmm. It’s good, but it’s a little odd.

Not going to rate it because it’s my own blend. But if you’re really, really curious, here’s the link: http://www.adagio.com/signature_blend/blend.html?blend=79023

Flavors: Campfire, Caramel, Smoke, Vanilla

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Another lovely sample from Teavivre. I feel like I’m getting a proper oolong education through them. Thanks again, Angel! The packaging is very attractive – metallic maroon and gold foil, vacuum-sealed tight.

Now, this is a dark one. The leaves are not green at all, in fact, they’re dark brown. They smell sweet and nutty, like a dessert! Reminds me of baklava. When hit with water, the aroma intensifies. I’m getting a sort of nutmeg and walnut scent. The water changes to a color much like a black tea, sort of ambery brown. By the end of the steep time, the nutty scent was accompanied by a rather strong roasted smell. I am so curious – will this be like a bracing black tea? A mellow dessert? Maybe dark and woodsy?

The instructions on the packet gave a 3-10 minute steep time. I thought that was a pretty wide range! Staying on the lighter side, I went with 4 minutes. Upon first sip, I taste roasted seaweed. Not exactly what I expected, but still nice. I’m also getting notes of toasted sesame seeds. It reminds me of these little crackers I used to get at the Asian markets when I was a kid. There is some nuttiness to the taste, especially in the finish, but I’m mostly getting sesame and I like it. Definitely taking the rest of this pot to work with me.

Flavors: Nuts, Nutty, Roasted, Seaweed, Sweet, Walnut

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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I snagged this from the office at my apartment complex. They have a little coffee/tea station in the waiting area. I admit I’ve abandoned a few bagged teas I didn’t like there. I hope they were used…

Anyway, it’s cold, it’s raining, and it’s too late for caffeine. Now, rooibos and I still do not get along. I do not purchase rooibos blends ever, though they still find their way to me every now and then. On the other hand, if they’re flavored (especially with cinnamon), I tend to like them.

Orange peel is the most dominant flavor. It’s not super authentic, either. Kind of reminds me of liquid Motrin or Flintstones Vitamins. Ick. Cinnamon is the second flavor, and it’s pleasant. Not too hot, natural-tasting. No grittiness from it. But mostly, this is a VERY orangey tea. So, in summary, this kind of tastes like medicine and would not get a re-visit. If I want a cheap cinnamony rooibos, I’ll pick up Tazo’s apple thing.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Citrus, Orange Zest, Rooibos

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

I tried three Roobios tonight – new to them too. The only one I liked was the one with pumpkin and cinnamon. Other had lavendar, when I don’t like florals, and the other was a vanilla.

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Happy New Year, everyone! Starting my year in tea with something very nice. I made a pot of this for my brother and his girlfriend.

The first thing I noticed about the little green nuggets is the scent. A hint of the ocean, followed by sweet cream and flowers. As it steeps, it comes out to a lovely pale greenish yellow. It’s very light-looking, almost deceptively so. Like the other teas I’ve sampled from Teavivre lately, the leaves are whole and beautiful. Hardly nicked.

I have to say right now, this might be my new favorite oolong. It’s so smooth and it lacks a lot of that pungency that oolongs can have. Most of the ones I’ve tried have had a certain nuttiness about them, but this one doesn’t. I’m literally tasting just floral goodness and cream. Or milk. It’s soothing and fresh tasting. Wonderful.

Flavors: Cream, Creamy, Floral, Flowers, Umami

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Cream by Adagio Teas
556 tasting notes

This tea is a re-visit for me. I tried it for the first time back when Adagio was young, in 2005. Back then, I was really unimpressed. I thought it didn’t taste creamy at all. Just strange and vaguely sharp. But as I’ve mentioned many times before, Adagio has changed their recipes in the past 10 years. For most of the ones I’ve returned to, they’ve been improved immensely.

The scent of this tea makes me think I was right to give it another chance. It smells just like Thai tea! Oh, hell yes. I am such a sucker for Thai tea. Bottled, canned, powdered, boba, I don’t care, I love it.

The flavor lives up to the scent’s promise. It comes out looking like a regular black tea, no cloudiness from actual dairy. The creamy flavor is definitely there, though! It’s sort of like half and half, or non-vanilla whipped cream. That’s one thing I’ve seen a lot in teas like this — tea companies using the word “cream” when they mean “vanilla”. This is not vanilla.

After a few sips, I realized that this would be so perfect with a splash of milk. And I was right. Upping my rating SIGNIFICANTLY because this is not what I remembered at all. I’m going to make it double-strong next and try to make Thai tea out of it. Mmm.

Flavors: Cream, Creamy, Sweet

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Sounds good!


Haven’t had it in ages, but you’re a good observer—it’s really cream and not vanilla.


It does smell like Thai tea. I hadn’t noticed. I prefer Royal Milk Tea, but I have a lot of cream tea left, so maybe I could try making Thai tea as well.

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Yay, another Teavivre oolong! This one came as a sample in a pretty, light bronze pouch. Inside, it’s wrapped again in a little square of celophane. The small, bright green nuggets look a bit suspicious in such a package, if you know what I mean. Hehehe.

Anyway, the reviews of this tea here on Steepster are practically glowing, which makes me excited to give it a go. Again, I used a glass teapot so I could watch the leaves expand. Dry, they smell sweeter than your average oolong, with a hint of osmanthus I may or may not be imagining. It’s definitely a very floral and green aroma.

This is another oolong with wonderfully preserved leaves. They’re almost perfect. Whole and pointed, about two inches in length. This is also the brightest green oolong I’ve ever made, both in leaf and liquor. The tea is a spring-like greenish yellow and strongly scented with that characteristic pungency.

The flavor reminds me so much of the gardenias in my mother’s yard. The exhale is very, very floral without any actual floral ingredients, which is a wonder to me. It just naturally tastes like a freshly-rained-on garden smells. As it cools, more woodsy and floral flavors emerge. I know this is pretty unorthodox, but I might chill the rest of the pot I made and see how it tastes iced…

Flavors: Floral, Flowers, Gardenias, Osmanthus

Boiling 5 min, 30 sec

It sounds like it would be lovely iced!

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My first tea from the Teavivre oolong tasting. Thanks a bunch, Angel!

The dry leaf is tightly rolled and dark green. Before the water hits it, the tea smells vegetal and faintly like the sea. There’s also a hint of nuttiness. I’m a little intimidated, but curious. I’ve been very impressed with Teavivre’s oolongs in the past, so I am prepared to be surprised.

I steeped this in a glass teapot and took a minute to watch the leaves bounce up and down, slowly expanding and unfurling. The water transitioned to a pleasant yellowy green. After three minutes, I stopped them. By that point, I could see that many of the leaves were whole from stem to pointed tip. Beautiful.

The aroma of the finished tea is on the pungent side. However, the flavor is much more tame. The first thing I notice is umami. It’s brothy with a tiny note of seaweed. I’m also tasting salt… that’s a new one for me. But all that is balanced with floral, springlike flavors, and oolong’s nuttiness. It’s a very satisfying tea with a lot going on!

Flavors: Broth, Floral, Nuts, Nutty, Salt, Seaweed, Umami

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Summer Rose by Adagio Teas
556 tasting notes

The name of this tea has The White Stripes’s “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” on repeat in my head. “Like a summer rose needs the sun and rain, I need your sweet love to beat love away…” The lyrics don’t make sense, but I enjoy Jack White just the same.

The first thing I want to say about this tea is how it doesn’t look exactly like the photo. Rose petals naturally fade when they dry, so they’re not the bright magenta you see here. They’re faintly pink, but mostly a sort of cream color. That said, there is a very generous amount of them in my sample. Lovely!

The smell of the dry leaf is very floral, but not exclusively rose. I’m getting hints of lemon, pepper, and magnolia. Mmm, magnolia! The smell poignantly reminds me of the beginning of summer here in the deep south. I wonder if there are magnolia teas out there… that’s something to research for sure.

The brewed tea also smells of rose and magnolia. So summery, so nostalgic. Upon the first sip I notice that it’s not an overwhelmingly floral tea. It certainly doesn’t beat you over the head with the rose. The black tea base is mild and without bitterness or astringency. Much like a yunnan tip or something. Very smooth. Though that might have something to do with the preparation. On the package, it said to brew for three minutes, so I did. Anyway, it’s very gentle and I look forward to finishing the sample.

Flavors: Floral, Flowers, Lemon, Rose

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Hao Ya 'B' by Harney & Sons
556 tasting notes

Hmm, I take back some of what I said yesterday. Today I’m having it with less sweetener since I accidentally used too much before.

Yesterday I said I wasn’t getting any smoky flavor, but today I can taste it. It’s subtle, nothing like a lapsang or anything like that. But it’s there. I guess I just muted it.

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

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drank Hao Ya 'B' by Harney & Sons
556 tasting notes

I got this tea as a gift from Kaliska back in the summer and I’ve been holding on to it. I tried it iced and found that it’s not a very good black tea for that, so I saved it for winter when I’d want it hot.

First of all, this is the first tea I’ve gotten from Harney & Sons that came in both a tin and a foil pouch. Neat! Inside the pouch, the leaves are dark and tiny. Very narrow and fine, but not broken up. They’re so fine that when I scoop them with a teaspoon, I get a very dense amount. That comes into play later.

The resulting tea is hearty and rich, perfect for the first cup of the day. I certainly felt motivated by it! Since you get so much tea leaf per scoop, it’s easy to make it come out strong whether you meant to or not. There’s a hint of bitterness from this preparation, but in a good way. It’s tasty in the way that fancy dark chocolate is tasty. (To be clear, this isn’t a chocolatey tea, I’m just comparing the pleasant bitterness factors.)

I taste notes of honey, malt, wheat, and grains. It’s very satisfying. There’s a fair amount of astringency, but that’s common in keemuns and was expected. Others here on Steepster have called this tea smoky, but I’m not tasting it. Huh. I look forward to going through this tea throughout the winter.

Flavors: Grain, Honey, Malt, Wheat

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

This is the third Harney & Sons tea I’ve seen this evening that I want to try…I obviously need to buy more of their stuff…sounds good!

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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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