260 Tasting Notes

drank Lemon Yunnan by Samovar
260 tasting notes

I had this a while ago, so I’m going off notes, but this was a really interesting tea that I’m looking forward to trying again.

The Yunnan tea really lends it a full-bodied flavor. I was getting a lot of malty flavor from it, which I enjoy, and when I swish it around I’m gently reminded that there’s lemon in this tea. It’s very faint, the lemon, until I swallow, and then it’s like…when you walk through the doors of a place that has a fan running right inside so as the doors open you’re greeted with this blast of [usually warm] air. Except instead of air, it’s a refreshing lemon taste.

I don’t remember getting a pepper taste like Auggy mentioned, but when I drank this tea I was in a hurry and I didn’t have enough time savor it like I usually do with my tea [especially on the first go round], so next time I’ll have to watch for it. In any case, what resulted was another well-balanced, interactive melding of flavors from Samovar. I think I’m going to start my day with it tomorrow.

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 15 sec

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drank Jasmine Silver Needle by Samovar
260 tasting notes

Really, you could just read the description to this tea, because that is what it tastes like. It is light, it has the sweet and savory taste of hay, and the perfumed taste of jasmine is woven throughout.

The silver needle and the jasmine are both easy to find; one doesn’t drown out the other, which is surprising. In most jasmine teas that I’ve had, the jasmine has been very pronounced. Pronounced enough that, while it might not be belting a power ballad in your ear, it’s loud enough that you can’t ignore the fact that it’s there. While I appreciate that, it also means that if there’s anything else going on in the tea it can get drowned out a lot of the time. That isn’t a problem with this one, and I am completely enamored with now this ended up balancing out.

Some teas intertwine like vines on a trellis. Some swirl together like a chocolate and vanilla soft serve twisty cone. Others blend like fruit juices. This is like being outdoors during a summer afternoon, drunk on sunshine, with the scent of just baled hay and jasmine blossoms wafting to you on a light breeze.

I’ll be buying more when I’m done with this tin.

180 °F / 82 °C 4 min, 0 sec

Needs me a tin of this too! My Adagio one is all gone and I’ve been missing Jasmine Silver Needles =(

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GM Sampler | Tea 5 of 31

Coconut Pouchong | http://bit.ly/9WQQq0
[Eventually to Become]The Full Spread | http://bit.ly/bDtnNn

This was the tea that finished off my GM day back in January, and this was the best one of the bunch. If you had told me that I would hate the pear tea and love the coconut tea in this sampler, I would have laughed at you for five minutes. Maybe more. Because coconut and I don’t see eye to eye all of the time and, as we have established, I love pear.

The tea in the packet smelled, unsurprisingly, like coconut. Macaroons, the formerly named Samoa cookies from the Girl Scouts, suntan oil…all these things popped into my head. Wet, the leaves smelled vegetal with a hint of coconut. It reminded me of beansprouts, which I thought was weird, but they ARE tea leaves, so whatever.

Sipping the tea, it had a hint of that vegetal flavor, but it was much lighter. Mainly, what I was getting out of it was a buttery quality. Oh, it was good. Buttery with whiffs of coconut flavor and a cookie-like finish. It reminded me, undeniably, of coconut macaroons. Really freaking good coconut macaroons.

There were some other things going on in the tea, but all I could think of was coconut macaroons. That is what has stuck, and that is why I will be ordering this tea.

I never would have called that one.


180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 30 sec


I am throwing up the Nixon victory hands at my computer.


I must try this one tomorrow! Coconut macaroons! COCONUT MACAROONS!!!


I wish I had some more right now.


Can’t wait, can’t wait!

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GM Sampler | Tea 4 of 31

Sugar Caramel Oolong | http://bit.ly/ds1ZuN
One Big Happy Family | http://bit.ly/bDtnNn

After the experience that was Honey Pear, I couldn’t end things on a bad note, so I decided that I’d dive into the basket and try something else. I almost didn’t try this one, because I was thinking that if another set of flavors that I typically liked bombed horribly again that I’d begin to build some real resentment against the sampler. But, feeling brave, I decided I’d try it anyway.

Slicing open the foil packet, I was greeted with the smell of maple candy. Maple candy always makes me giggle, because it makes me think of the Friends episode where Ross eats all the maple candy and he gets all crazy. [Hair dryer, no no no! But shampoos and conditioners, yes yes yes! – http://bit.ly/snFLh should you want to watch.] So, already I was off to a better start.

The wet leaves were oily and almost looked like leather. They smelled like oatmeal and burnt sugar, which was interesting, but at least somewhat in line with what I was expecting. I smelled the liquid and it smelled more like oolong and caramel, which was very comforting.

The tea was arright. It had more of a burnt sugar taste than a caramel taste to it, which was cool, but I like caramel so much that I was hoping for more. Not soul-crushing, but not elating. I’d push it more towards the good than the bad, but I don’t think that I’ll be ordering this one either.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

Eventho the oily and leather phrase freaks me out…I’m glad this tea was better than the last 2…CHEERS!


Hrm, I still definitely want to try this one.


@TeaEqualsBliss Hahaha, seriously! Cheers!

@wombatgirl You should! It was tasty – I just love caramel so much I wanted more.

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drank Honey Pear by Golden Moon Tea
260 tasting notes

GM Sampler | Tea 3 of 31

Honey Pear | http://bit.ly/cy1HXR
Gotta Catch ’Em All | http://bit.ly/bDtnNn

This tea made me so angys!!!

Like, for real, pissed. I want to photoshop a big frowny face all over the Honey Pear picture.

I think I’ve professed my love for pear in enough gory detail already, but if you missed that log – I LOVE IT. Like, scary love. And I like honey well enough. So to say that I was excited to try this tea is a bit of an understatement.

The dry leaf smelled like bazooka joe. And medicine. This put me on edge right away, because it tripped my WTF alarm straight off. But I dumped the sample into the infuser and began the process of making the tea.

When I pulled out the infusing basket, I smelled the wet leaves.

Strawberry runts and banana boat suntan lotion. I’m really confused at this point, but I sip it anyway.

You might have read my post about how much I loved Art of Tea’s Caramelized Pear, which uses apple bits to achieve the pear taste to great effect. This tea is like what I imagine using the power of apple to pear for EVIL would be like, because the tea tasted like bad, mealy, apple. It was Bad, Bad, Mealy Brown apple. Once I had that mental image in my head, it was impossible to shake and there was no way to enjoy the tea after that.

Building upon the suck that is mealy apple, the tea had this bitterness to it that would get really high and sharp at some points. And to make matters worse, at the back of the throat the tea created this horrible sour taste.

I sat with it long enough to eventually get a hint of sweetness at the tip of my tongue, but unfortunately it was impossible to recover from all the bad. I had to dump the cup, but I consider it an accomplishment that I got halfway through it.

I honestly think that this was defective because it does not at ALL sound like what the majority of the other people got, and while I think that tastes diverge this was just…wrong.

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 15 sec

That’s terrifying. I wanted to like it so much, and did not. I didn’t have trouble finishing it, but I didn’t enjoy it…mostly because I felt like the flavor was too much for me. It wasn’t completely repellant though! I have half of a sample left, and my intention is to try to make it and ice it and see what comes of that. I’m going to see if I can’t pick out some of these bad notes when I do, just to see if your sample really had to have been defective. It’s entirely possible!


Ouchies. :\ This is one of the ones I have left in my basket to try, just because I thought I’d love it. It’s so divisive!


Wow. I kind of liked it. The pollen made it taste so much like honey. Maybe you don’t like pollen?


@TeaEqualsBliss Indeed!

@sophistre Please do. I’m curious, because it’s not like it tasted overwhelmingly of pear or honey – I probably would have liked that. It just tasted of disgusting.

@teaplz I really very much think that there was something wrong with my sample, so don’t let my experience deter you! Given when you ordered/received your sampler, I think you’re likely safe.

@fcmonroe Hmm. I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten pollen before that I can recall, so maybe? It didn’t taste anything like what other people were saying that they were tasting, though. And since my preparation methods didn’t differ wildly from other people and I know that what I get out of tea runs roughly parallel to some of those people, I’m going to tentatively blame it on the sample.


Poooooorrr takogti…. your batch seems really messed up. Doesn’t GM have a customer satisfaction guarantee policy?

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GM Sampler | Tea 2 of 31

Madagascar Vanilla | http://bit.ly/aOFn6g
All of Them GM Pictures | http://bit.ly/bDtnNn


That’s going to be the gist of this review, so if you want to skip it there you have it: eh.

It smelled like vanilla extract in that it had that kind of alcoholic tinge to it, with a darker notes that made me think of chocolate. It was promising, and I was excited, and then I sipped.

I’ll give it that it actually did taste of vanilla, but it was thin. It didn’t have enough oomph and it lacked that richness I’ve come to enjoy in some of the better vanilla teas I’ve had. I was hunkering down to expand upon this, but now I realize that there’s really not much else to say. It was one-note and a bit weaker than I’d like. Maybe some milk would help thicken it up, but I don’t have anymore and I don’t see myself buying this one.

All that being said, it was decent. Just…


205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec

Yeah. I felt that way about a lot of them, and didn’t log them for that reason. However, I will say that GM would be well-served to contract you to take pictures of their tea.


Hey takgoti!!!! LOVE the series of reviews from your shipment!!!! :) Sorry this one wasn’t awesome…maybe your next one will be…


LOVE the pics BTW!


@sophistre Wow, thank you. That is a blush-worthy compliment indeed!

@TeaEqualsBliss Thanks so much! Luckily there’s good news on the way, but unfortunately the tea I had right after this was not…happy.


EH is a good description of this one. It’s a serviceable vanilla, and I think I would have loved it had I not had better vanillas before it.


@teaplz Eeeexactly.

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GM Sampler | Tea 1 of 31

Sampler Picture 1 | http://bit.ly/9xGx6q
Sampler Picture 2 | http://bit.ly/dBJHvN
Vanilla Jasmine | http://bit.ly/dtaOd0
L’Entire Set [Which Shall Be Updated Accordingly] | http://bit.ly/bDtnNn


Or, rather, it beganneth about a long while ago. I’m going to be writing the first leg of this from notes since I was a bad logger. [This makes me think of lumberjacks. Which makes me think of Monty Python. Suspenders and a bra! I should mention that I’m cresting on a bit of a caffeine high at the moment.]

The tea smelled distinctly, unmistakably, of jasmine and vanilla. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how it was going to taste, but I didn’t buy this sampler so I could smell the tea and dump the cup.

So, I drank. And, it would have been more surprising if I hadn’t read the other tasting notes, the jasmine was hiding in the wings on the taste. I mainly got vanilla, which is not how I would have thought this all would have gone down, but it’s not to say it wasn’t pleasant.

The vanilla taste was rich and a bit creamy. It reminded me of these lollipops my family gets sometimes when we’re near a See’s [which used to be a mainly west coast deal but I think has spread across the country with some success] that are vanilla flavored. [For the record, vanilla and butterscotch lollipops = good. Chocolate = meh.] I like those lollipops, so it probably goes without saying that I enjoyed the vanilla aspect of this tea, but I’m going to say it anyway. I liked the vanilla.

The jasmine came gliding out right as the tea was exiting my mouth to whisper its presence, leaving a very light, floral aftertaste to the vanilla. The entire thing was kind of strange, but there was something about the way that the vanilla and the jasmine played off one another that made it work.

A small note: while it was still hot, I didn’t find this tea very good. It stifled the jasmine and drowned out the sweetness in the vanilla, so I’ll gently advise to wait until it tips towards lukewarm.

Overall, I’d call this a win, but I think I’ll wait to see whether I want to order more until I’m done with the sampler.

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 15 sec

WAHHHH! I love your pictures of the sampler! SO. PRETTY. And yay that you enjoyed this one so far!


I love your photographs!

Tea Savant

Now THAT’S a tasting note. Gosh…I’ve got a lot to improve! Thanks for the time and effort.


*sings * I am a lumberjack and I’m okay….


Well done!


Considering what Michael Palin likes to wear (Lumberjack verse 3) … I can see him drinking something like this :o) Thanks, all: I’m going to be singing that to myself ALL DAY LONG!


@teaplz Hahaha, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do with the rest of y’all. I’m about 5 deep.

@JacquelineM @TeaEqualsBliss Thanks so much!

@Tea Savant HAHAHA not at all, I’m just verbose. But thank you! [You should take a gander at some of the things that angrboda and teaplz have written – they’ve beat me on thoroughness quite a few times.]

@Jillian I sleep all night and I work all day!

@Heyes Thank you!

@gmathis HAHAHA, too true!

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drank Pu-erh Vanilla Mint by Rishi Tea
260 tasting notes

Everything about this tea should have pointed toward me enjoying it. Vanilla, yes. Mint, yes. Pu-erh, yes. Favorable-ish reviews on Steepster, yes.

I should say at this point that something in this tea made me feel a bit ill, which is puzzling because mint typically does just the opposite for me and this tea was quite heavy on the mint. This no doubt is going to affect my rating, but I’m hoping that the next time I try this I won’t end up with a stomach ache and a scowl.

I actually wasn’t getting a lot of pu-erh taste on this at first, though I could definitely smell it. It was giving rise to a kind of chocolate-y taste, which was nice, since I like chocolate and mint. And oh, there was mint.

Mint, mint, mint, mint, mint.

The mint was loud. It was doing its best Tarzan impression and I was trying to smother it unsuccessfully to try and get other tastes out of the tea. The pu-erh, and I’m not really sure how to explain this, was giving it this earthy undertone without really being singular. It was giving the mint a little dimension, is another way of putting it, and I guess I found that enjoyable, but here’s where the good ended and things began to sour.

One, I couldn’t taste the vanilla. It just wasn’t there. I convinced myself that, at one point, I could taste it on the tip of my tongue because I was getting just a hint of sweetness, but the mint was doing a really good job of drop-kicking anything else that tried to compete with it in the arena that is my tongue, so there wasn’t enough for me to be happy with it.

Two, about half-way through the cup my stomach started to become very angry. I don’t know what caused it; perhaps it was mutinying illogically against the excessive mint, but it started to ache unpleasantly. I suspect that it might have been the pu-erh, but pu-erh has never upset me before and I don’t have any way of confirming this.

Because I’m a masochist, I continued to sip the tea, thinking that maybe it was something I had eaten, until I realized that I’d had, like, oatmeal and toast that morning and there’s no way that was what was upsetting my stomach. At this point I had to acknowledge that it was the tea, so I dumped it and brewed up some Moorish Mint, which was both tastier and quelled the stomach leprechauns.

I’m going to give this another try, but on a day when I’m feeling brave and know that the possibility of stomach issues won’t disrupt my day. For now, the rating shall suffer my wrath.

ETA: Picture | http://bit.ly/bqQoti

195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 30 sec

Aww booo. I was hoping that this one would be good! It was going on my Rishi order, and now I think that I should take it off. :\

Oh Cha!

Awww… @Tokgoti, I love your reviews! Except for this one :(
I love this tea! And oddly, so does my entire non-tea drinking family.
@Teaplz I recommend you sample it for yourself. :)


@teaplz Don’t remove it on my account! Plenty of other people seemed to like it just fine! This may have been a misnomer – I have yet to try it again. I’ll let you know!

@Oh Cha! HAHAHA, I wouldn’t have rated it so low if it hadn’t left me with cramping aches! Hopefully a second run on it will leave me with happier results, but in the meantime, I need to rate accordingly, unfortunately.


Aww poor takgoti! My stomach always gets queasy with tea. It might be because you didn’t eat enough before drinking it? Pu-erh does help digestion soooo yeahhh….

This is a strange tea. The first time I drank it, I was getting more of the flavors. The second time I drank it, I was getting a strong pu-erh taste to it.


takgoti, it’s less the flavors, and more about the evil stomach issues. D: My stomach is super-delicate, and gets upset fairly easily (and tea can set it off sometimes), so… yeah. Sorry this one made you feel so awful!

I never understood that “aid digestion” thing. Is that a polite way to say that it’ll make you go, go, go, or does it mean that it’ll regulate you? So. Strange.


Haha, no no. The whole aid digestion basically means it helps you digest the food! Well it breaks it down / makes you hungry again. So it’s like hey drink some tea and eat some more food.


I also find that if I don’t eat enough before hand, black tea can sometimes make me queasy. I’ve never tried pu-erh before, though.


@Ricky That’s a good point, I hadn’t thought about that. I had a big bowl of oatmeal a few hours prior to trying this, which is usually pretty filling for me, but maybe I need to drink it RIGHT after I eat next time.

@teaplz Ah, crap, that’s right. Hrm. If you do get it maybe get the smallest size?

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drank Lichee by Red and Green Company
260 tasting notes

I stumbled across this in my grocery store wanderings and bought it because I liked the tin and I like lichee. Lychee? I think either spelling is acceptable, but I trend with the “y”. Moving on.

This tea is a bit sweet, and the lychee is definitely there. I’m not sure what black tea they used as a base, but at gunpoint I’d guess Ceylon. The shortness of this log is going to reflect what I thought about this tea, because I found it good, but there’s not a lot to say about it. It tastes a bit like lychee, it’s pretty smooth, and it wasn’t bitter. I wasn’t getting a ton of depth from it.

I’ll agree with oOTeaOo, in that I’m glad I tried it but I doubt I’ll get more. If memory serves, it wasn’t cheap, and Samovar offers a much more economical [and in my opinion, tastier] option. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy playing around with steep times to see if I can get more flavor out of this one.

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Yesterday evening, it started snowing. I am no stranger to snow, but it’s been noticeably absent from these parts for the past number of years. We’ll get one, maybe two inches – barely enough to cover the ground. When I was in high school, we’d hope against hope that the school board would take pity on us and cancel school for the day [and since we usually don’t get much they typically would, even though it was definitely drivable].

This year, we got dumped with 14-16 inches during the big east coast snowfall. In between then and now, we received a few more inches. Yesterday evening, the weather graced us with another 4-6. This has prompted a number of silly hash tags on twitter, like #snOMG, #snowpocalypse, and #precipageddon [that last one may be my favorite].

Last night’s snow was packing snow. For those who might not be familiar, that means it was coming down in big, airy flakes that are optimal for creating those spherical orbs of crystallized H20 that people sometimes like to chuck at each other or stack into vaguely humanoid forms. This was the kind of snow that used to get me crazy excited as a child, because I knew I’d be decking a few kids in my neighborhood before someone got hurt and we all got yelled at. [Ah, childhood.] Even now, it’s the snow that I find the prettiest. There’s something romantic about it, and it demands a tea with a hazy warmth about it.

Deciding to chance it on something new, I brewed up a cup of Vanilla Dian Hong while I watched the flakes float silently down outside in between physics problems. [I should add at this point that this is one of my favorite contemplative “it’s snowing outside” songs ever – http://bit.ly/c5811d – should you need/want one.] So I sat there, working through problems, watching the snow, and smelling the tea while I waited for it to cool.

It smelled like vanilla, unsurprisingly, but with an edge. It almost smelled…malty. Maybe earthy? It reminded me a bit of pu-erh, actually, and I did find that surprising. Once I thought it had cooled enough to sip without fear of scalding, I went ahead and slurped in a bit.

I’m not sure how to describe what transpired, but it resulted in one of the more interesting mouthfeels I’ve had in a while. It was as though the outside borders of the liquid was watery; tiptoeing on but not quite breaking ground into bitter. It was a little metallic, in a way, almost…coppery? The center of tea, however, was rich and flavorful. This was all in one mouthful, and all when it was held in place without swallowing, and unfortunately that’s the best I can do to explain it.

The center of the tea didn’t have a lot of vanilla taste to me, which was maybe a little disappointing, but it did taste like something good. Part of it was malt. That was unmistakable to me, but it took me a long time to place what the other thing was. Once I did, it was one of those things that made me “D’oh” out loud. It tasted like graham cracker. I haven’t had graham crackers in a long time. Realizing that this is what I was tasting almost instantly transported me back to when I was little and my brother would fight at the end of lunch over who got to split the cracker down its perforated seam. I used to like to dunk my sections of cracker in my apple juice. [Don’t make that face at me; it’s good! Seven-year-old me promises. Cross her heart!]

As the tea cooled down to lukewarm, the vanilla came out of hiding and was much more present in the tea, which made me smile. Sometimes, when the sweetness would fade away at the tip of my tongue, I could taste a spicy puff of black pepper. When I exhaled, I could taste the vanilla on my breath, and the scent rising out of my cup began to remind me of pipe tobacco.

This tea was best to me at a bit below hot to lukewarm. It’s something that I’m looking forward to trying again, because I found it to be pretty complex. It lent itself very well to homework and snow, and since we’re supposed to be getting more snow in soon [and I doubt my load of homework’s going to lighten before the semester’s over], I may find myself in another opportune setting this weekend.

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 30 sec

This sounds absolutely delicious. Man. Samovar’s a beast. The end.




I remember the apple juice thing.

I can’t believe I do, because I don’t even know what would have possessed me to do that, but I am pretty sure that the kids in the cafeteria always did. I didn’t remember that until just now.


Dude! It makes me grin to know that I’m not the only person who did that. I’m going to have to pick up some graham crackers and apple juice now. Mandatory reminiscing ahead.


Ohhhmeegoddd, graham crackers? Now I want some! I swear my first samovar order is going to be over a hundred dollars at this rate. Actually it probably already is. You’re going to make me broke!


Ricky, at least you’ll get free shipping then! :P


I know! Free shipping over $100 or more. I definitely hit it with Samovar. Cries… poor wallet. What shall I do?


‘SNOWpocalyps’ Bah, you wusses need to come spend a winter here in Canada – then you’ll see what real snow looks like! ;)


I hope you’re keeping warm. Ours has switched over to rain, just above freezing. Will be a fun day to see what comes of it tomorrow.

And, man, Ricky’s right on. Between your great Samovar reviews and other good things I’m hearing about them, it’s going to be an expensive first order when I finally do!


@Jillian Hahaha, true, but it’s all relative. We typically get a little bit of snow every year, but only a few inches here or there. In my 25 years, I’ve never seen it snow this much here. We aren’t equipped to handle it!

@laurenpressley Eep, I hope it lets up for you guys. I’m hoping that they’re wildly exaggerating the amount of snow we’re supposed to get, but mostly I’m hoping the power doesn’t go out. And yay for Samovar orders!

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Former coffeeist, turned teaite. Lover of writing, reading, photography, and music. Traveler of life. Known to be ridiculous on occasion.


Virginia, USA



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