15 Tasting Notes

drank Black Cloud by Silk Road Teas
15 tasting notes

My recent, themed overly pretentious posts seem to have not resonated with the Steepster community. Therefore, back to the basics I go.

Black Cloud – what a smooth, only slightly sweet black tea! It is really pleasant. I brewed this particular Steepster Select tea with one of the included tea filters in a standard 8oz mug at 212F for 3 minutes. All standard as indicated by Steepster’s included instructions. The only pain I encounter is when I try to find a place to put my tea bag down in between steeps. Right now I’ve just placed in on top of a napkin-covered leather coaster, and its messy and damp all over.

The first steep offered only glancing insights into the core of the tea. Light chocolatey notes could be heard around the tea, but with a sip, nothing more than a generic sweetness arose. The second steep did little to help unravel the Black Cloud, but the sweetness began to fade. There is little exotic or exciting about Black Cloud from Silk Road Teas, but it is a basic black tea with a tinge of chocolate and a blanket of gentle sweetness.

News! I just got a nice faucet mount filter from Culligan, and it works like a charm. No more ewy, chewy tap water from this 100 year old factory that I live in. And it honestly has improved the quality of my tea-making.

Flavors: Anise, Kettle Corn, White Chocolate

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

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drank Boston Blend by Harney & Sons
15 tasting notes


I never realized how much this song was about rebirth and transformation, but aren’t all soft rock songs? I’m not actively seeking to reinvent myself right now, but Boston by Augustana just seems to fit Harney & Sons’ Boston Blend.

Now, there’s one line in the song that is completely out of place. Let me transcribe a few lines for you:

I think I’ll start it over, where no one knows my name,
I’ll get out of California, I’m tired of the weather,
I think I’ll get a lover and fly him out to Spain…
Oh yeah and I think I’ll go to Boston,

Did you see it? It’s just barely audible, but apparently Augustana couldn’t find any adequate rhymes for name – except Spain. And how does everyone associate with the Spanish? Well, clearly lust and escape and sex and gigolos and the sexual revolution of the 1980s.

Unfortunately, the boys seem oblivious of their own city’s claim to fame on the erotica game: “Banned in Boston”. Indeed, the fabled city on a hill and critically acclaimed Protestant haven, Boston has tirelessly defended against the ever-increasing lewd and licentious dangers plaguing modern society. Much like our aforementioned guardian, Iggy Azalea, of sexual purity, Boston’s long-standing Watch and Ward Society censored the likes of the evil Upton Sinclair, Faulkner, HG Wells, and Ernest Hemingway. Thank gourd Harry Potter wasn’t around to plague the youth of Boston!

Thus, adding another page to our Caulfield-like repertoire, we see the boys of Augustana desire to return to a period of innocence since lost. See no evil.

Here’s a Creed song: http://youtu.be/iBBqjGd3fHQ

Flavors: Bergamot, Burnt Sugar, Vanilla

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 22 OZ / 650 ML

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drank Blue Eyes by McNulty's
15 tasting notes

Do you like adventure?

McNulty’s Tea & Coffee Co, Inc. was established in 1895. I’m not quite sure what to make of it including Co. and Inc. in their name, but don’t let their redundancy and antiquity fool you.

McNulty’s is an adventure.

Nested within New York City’s labyrinth of concrete and corporate-life is a little tea shop that sticks up to the big man. Walk into McNulty’s and be overwhelmed with the striking tones of different coffees and varieties of tea. You can inspect the tea yourself and when you’re ready to pack it up and go home, a few fellows come and bag your tea for you.

I’ve never had a Blue Eyes blend before, but immediately after taking the first whiff of Blue Eyes in McNulty’s wooded floors and wall-lined tea containers, I knew this was the one. Blue Eyes blend is ravishingly sweet. The tea unfurls and really comes alive upon your palette. The flavors of different fruits and spices dance across the tongue, and spark a dragoon of curiosity.

Blue Eyes blend is a spectacle. McNulty’s is an adventure. Highly recommended.

Flavors: Dried Fruit, Goji, Hibiscus

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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October 3, 2014 – Yom Kippur

What’s in a Monk’s blend? Surely a blend by any other name would taste as sweet?

Bad paraphrasing aside, this ’Monk’s Blend’ by Alice’s Tea Cup – a wonderfully tragic consortium of myth and whimsy sheathed within the monolith that is New York City – just doesn’t do it for me. It doesn’t taste like the Monk’s Blends I’ve had before: those that were infused with the supernatural energy of the earth, wind, and well you get the rest.

Can an object truly be labeled as such if it does not wholly understand and represent the very attributes that make it said object? An example only appropriate for the holiest of days, does the crying girl lamenting about the current state of high school in Mean Girls truly understand the sentiments of the high school and thus represents a student thereof? The fact that she doesn’t even go there probably doesn’t help.

O.K. bad example – wrong holiday. Instead, let us look to the wandering Jew who is doomed to walk the earth until the second coming of Jesus. The story goes that when Jesus was resting on a Jerusalem man’s doorstep, a man drove him away, and so Jesus replied, “I go but you will walk until I come again!” The legend posits that the Jew’s rudeness towards Jesus as a traveller is the reason for his punishment of endless walking.

However, the imperative of hospitality and the opening of one’s home to those in need is so deeply rooted in Judaism that it seems questionable to really call this man from Jerusalem a true Jew. We see this most prominently in Abraham and Sarah welcoming the three visitors into their camp. Can he be honestly labeled as a Jew if he ignores the very fundamentals and tenets that comprise Judaism? Tying such false labeling back into this tea review for Monk’s Blend from Alice’s Tea Cup, we must look back to Matthew Gregory Lewis’ 1796 gothic novel The Monk.

My boy, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, once commented that The Monk was “the offspring of no common genius”. He went on to remark that he had not seen a bolder or more happy conception than that of the burning cross on the forehead of the wandering Jew. However, Coleridge had his concerns of his own! Coleridge criticizes the plight of Ambrosio, the devout monk, in that he was destroyed by spiritual beings. He says, “no earthly being can sufficiently oppose the power and cunning of supernatural beings.”

Perhaps the same holds true with this earth-bound cup of Monk’s Blend next to us now. How could we mere mortals begin to comprehend the sensation that is the true Monk’s Blend, imbued with the deepest vibrations of truths hidden in the Universe a thousand times over?

Basically, what I’m really trying to say here is that this Monk’s Blend from Alice’s Tea Cup is: Just O.K

A verifiable source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monk

Flavors: Bergamot, Butterscotch, Creamy

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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Maman died today.

The postcard came in the mail last night. I was asleep. I saw a man come in, however. He was dressed all in grey. He wore an off-tilted hat with a white ridge around the brim, and then he handed me the letter sealed with a gold wax seal. I thought it was a nice gesture as no one takes the time to put a nice seal on letters anymore. Without thinking, I responded with a “Thank You”, and the man drove away.

Afterwards, it struck me that I needn’t have said that. I had no reason to thank the delivery boy; he was probably getting paid to do it. I thought: how many more letters would he deliver that day? He reminded me of a fellow that I used to know; a friend, even, Raymond was to me. He lived a simple life. In the mornings, Raymond didn’t go out; it was only until the evening that he went out. He always had the company of a young girl, and he even told me one time that he couldn’t go on without them. He was unusual. Or was that Edward?

Regardless, the letter came to me – Maman had wanted that I see it. I peeled back the seal and peeked inside, but there was nothing in it. An empty envelope, inviting yet unsettling. Perhaps she had run out of time to fill it? Perhaps it was a message. A gift, even: hope. Maybe I could become somebody or do something as well. Without an interruption, I would have kept on going without a direction.

As soon as I had grasped these feelings, I began to feel drowsy again. I couldn’t fight back the sensation, so I began to think back to the man with the grey hat. He continued to go on doing his job; continued to go on working towards whatever it was that he was working towards, and went on despite fatigue or hunger. But his task, being so simple, so mundane, surely could not be significant. Rather, looking back down at the now open envelope, I began to feel disappointed. I thought that despite the white hope that Maman gave me, I would lack the ethic and would thus fail. I can’t fail.

I wish I could go on, but I must go to sleep now for the light is blinding.


Flavors: Flowers, Medicinal, Peppermint

200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

In the style of Mersault, our boy of the sea and the sun himself, I tried to tackle understanding different ways of life and creating a unique purpose and thus meaning to one’s own life. Rather absurd, isn’t it?

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drank Australian Shincha by Ito En
15 tasting notes

hypem.com is down right now. I have exhausted all avenues to cool-ness. Thus, I sit here writing about tea.

This tea tastes like a mediocre life. Having just seen the enigmatic yet transformative Iggy Azalea at Atlanta’s recent music festival, I feel like I have some authority on the matter.

Leading an unfulfilling life scares me. The scariest part being everyone with the wool over their eyes being led hand-in-hand into the slaughterhouse, singing kumbaya and cooking quiche. Shakespeare could not have imagined a more sardonic future. I haven’t seen RoboCop. Maybe I’m a PU$$Y.

“Pus pus pus!”

Luckily, we have mavens like IGGY to stave off our ever-quiescent society. The true madonna of our times, Iggy, not only exposes us to the truth (in warning us against falling into a mediocre life) but also fights against a heathen robotic uprising that seeks to prey on our youth!

Just take a peek at Iggy’s unparalleled PU$$Y linked below. The predatory robotic voice emphatically belts out “Pussy. Pussy. Pussy.” A cold, driven emotion lies underneath his articulate facade. What are his motivations? Clearly, Iggy is lashing out against the over-sexualization in society. What long term effects must we suffer before we see how our fleshy fetish will condemn us?

I can’t speak for her, but I believe that Iggy isn’t trying to shelter our children per say, but she does try to protect the collective innocence. Unfortunately, there are the unenlightened among us that clearly misunderstand Iggy’s artistic virtues. Below is an excerpt from saboteur365’s April 27th blog post:

“The one thing these Illuminati creations all have in common, whether they be Iggy, Gaga, Paris, Kim, or others, is their Satanic lifestyles, which they promote through video, music, TV, and film. The message is clear and it’s aimed at children: Worship Satan. Satan will reward you. It’s the Illuminati at work, doing what they do, which is enslaving humanity in its Satanic grip.”

But I don’t want to let some radical fundamentalist nonsense derail my tea review! The Australian(s) is great – it has a dry grass, almost zucchini taste to it, with inviting whiffs akin to boiling spaghetti.

No Mediocre: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdsTUfDTEhQ
PU$$Y (listen for the Pus Pus Pus!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=As-05Gnihcw
saboteur365’s April Post: http://saboteur365.wordpress.com/2014/04/27/iggy-azalea-a-great-message-for-little-girls-says-good-morning-america/

Flavors: Dry Grass, Spinach, Zucchini

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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Pure Whimsy!

Cantaloupe & Cream is a winner. I luckily picked it up as my second free sample from Butiki.

Brewed with exacting precision, I heated water to precisely 180 degrees Farenheit; poured said heated water into a measuring cup; measured exactly 8oz of piping hot (180 degrees Farenheit, mind you!) water into my Perfect Tea Maker. The results were extraordinary: the tea tasted exactly like melons! Huge, juicy tracts of …err- melons!

From the bouquet alone, notes of tree-sap and bug-juice alight upon the heavy tone of cantaloupey-honeydewey-melony madness. Madness. Why, in sooth, such a tea transports me to happier times of lincoln and green. Merry it would be time join a happy band and form an outlawed rebel guerrilla army, do you not think it so?

No, I’d rather just sing! And such a sweet tune Cantaloupe & Cream sings. A merry melody of melons mashed upon another merely making me mad for another cuppa. The first cup was a delight. The second one too. And the third, it was a pleasure as well. But the fourth-one! That fourth one stayed up.

That doesn’t make very much sense. Madness. Back to the tea, however, there is a certain…special…somethin’ about it that completes the experience. The heart-warming, time-traveling aroma is not let down by the taste, and although sweet, it does not overpower and actually rounds off with a comforting tart sensation through the aftertaste. Keep in mind that this is how it might taste hot:

I can’t wait to ice it. Gets down on one knee


Flavors: Brown Sugar, Honeydew, Melon

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

I thought this might hold up to a fourth steeping! I’ll have to give it a try


Yes! And it shan’t fall into the swamp!

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Affection? Pooh! You speak like a green girl,
Unsifted in such perilous circumstance.
Do you believe his tenders, as you call them?

Boracay Breeze, a thin white tea entwined with chains of flowers, reminds me of Ophelia. Sweet Ophelia. My roommate has a succulent named Ophelia.

A forlorn lover to Hamlet, Ophelia grows mad and wilts. A flower, incapable of her own distress, Ophelia falls to her death into a stormy brook below. Ever-flowing time and the de-flowering of Ophelia departs from the falling, innocent willow.

Boracay Breeze is a tea for the heartbroken. It’s sweet, it’s inviting and captivating, but it’s lost. The over-powering perfume aroma (the tea was created as a request to be modeled after a subscriber’s perfume!) overshadows the tricky taste. The poetic taste entertains but leaves an emptiness that can’t be described. A lingering aftertaste warns you that you may have lost something that you’ll never be able to get back.

Scoffed at, ignored, suspected, disbelieved, commanded to distrust her own feelings, thoughts and desires, Ophelia is fragmented by contradictory messages … Seeming to absorb the general absence of belief in her own intelligence, virtue, and autonomy, Ophelia is left with an identity osmotically open to external suggestion; that is, she appears to lack clear psychic boundaries … Ophelia appears never to have [been] allowed to develop a discrete sense of self apart from those others (father and brother, then later, Hamlet) who fashioned her identity to suit their needs.
– Reading Ophelia’s Madness

Here’s a listening companion —
Sweet Ophelia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWpMFF5rxTo
Four Walls: https://soundcloud.com/broods/four-walls

There’s rue for you and here’s some for me. We may call it “herb of grace” O’ Sundays

Flavors: Almond, Hot hay, Perfume

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

Hey, thanks for the add! Always cool to find someone here who’s from the A!


If my memory serves true, they say it is “where the players play”!

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Today is a special day. “Wet Friday”. Yet, I sit here with a cup of freshly brewed Pistachio Ice Cream on my cream white sofa in front of my TV about to start the first episode of The Wire.

Amazon is amazing. I bought the Fire TV a few weeks back and I don’t have enough good things to say about it. I don’t know how many good things it deserves, but I’ll say this: it’s great. I’ve actually been watching a lot of content on Prime – The Wire, Nathan For You, and Battlestar Galactica.

I haven’t started Battlestar Galactica yet, but I hear oh-so-positive things about it. Before we get ahead of ourselves, though, let’s talk about Nathan For You. Wow – I’ll post a sample below. It is the funniest show I have seen on TV since The Office. And I loved The Office.

A natural segue, Butiki Tea’s Pistachio Ice Cream does not live up to its billing for me. I love pistachios, and just last night I walked over to Atlanta’s own Honey Bubble and got a Pistachio-Almond bubble tea with a green tea base and lychee pearls. It tasted exactly like pistachios – moreso than just the pistachio bubble tea alone! Pistachio Ice Cream burns with a little too strong green tea/seaweed taste. Perhaps the green Mao Jian base was a little too oxidized in the batch as it borders more on an oolong-y flavor profile. The desired vanilla undertones are overpowered by a vegetal, roasted smell.

However, icing the tea is sublime. A little crazy-random-happenstance and I ended up with an iced tea version of Pistachio Ice Cream, and its creamy base bloomed. As a note, I brewed the ice tea as a pour over rather than my typical cold brew variant.

I recommend Pistachio Ice Cream as an iced tea. One day you might just want to splash in some milk, a little honey, and put some bubbles at the bottom and call it a day.

Nathan For You – http://youtu.be/Y4KrdjAPohc

Flavors: Roast nuts, Seaweed, Vegetable Broth

180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 45 sec 3 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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drank Hello Sweetie by Butiki Teas
15 tasting notes

As I sit here, watching Ricky Gervais’ An Idiot Abroad and drinking Hello Sweetie, questions pour into my head.

Hello Sweetie is a blend created by Stacy from Butiki Tea and fellow Steepsterite JustJames! I received Hello Sweetie as a requested sample from Butiki, and let me just say what a fantastic buying experience Stacy provides – from requesting samples to getting a handwritten note in the mail along with your tea – it is a pleasure.

Thus, using the 2 teaspoon sample and 500mL of boiling water, I tried Hello Sweetie for the first time. A sweet, caramely black tea, Hello Sweetie has no astringency at all and instead allows for a smooth, creamy sip. I pick up on the banana and (perceived) candied-apple undertones from the scent of the tea, but my cup lacks a bit of staying power and taste. I did, however, only steep for the lower bound of 3 minutes and my next steep will be longer. In addition, I added a bit of rock sugar which only compounds the sweetie-nees to propagate an even more serene ride down the esophagus.

Now back to those questions. On An Idiot Abroad, Karl and Warwick are traveling through India and stop at a village that houses a pair of conjoined twins colloquially known as the spider girls. They walk parallel to the ground using their feet and two pairs of hands, giving reason for the name. Upon this visit, Karl meets with the girls while Warwick stays outside, refusing to meet with them as the desire to seek them out for being different touches an ethical cord within Warwick. As he stays outside, however, he is pursued by a parade of villagers only to watch and observe his actions (as the venerable actor comes in only at 3’ 6’’). Such irony only reserved to British Travel Documentaries, raises deep questions about moral relativism, the categorical imperative, and sheer cultural differences, but I am ill-equipped to handle such questions.

Instead, I look to another part of the show a little later where Warwick is pressured into appearing on-stage with Karl and the spider twins to be watched. The show flirts with the ethical issues of side-shows, but the pervasive theme at play here is really the story of bullying. Throughout the third season many measures are taken to ensure that the lovable, idiotic Karl does not bully Warwick for his physical stature, but in doing so we gloss over the bullying that Karl has endured since the beginning of the show. Therefore, the “bullying” goes both ways, in part, and plays upon the irony and moral dichotomies within the show and the characters themselves.

Moving away from this again, and returning to the issue of cultural differences, I have a question for the steepster community: Do you ever use sugar in your teas or do you find adding sugar to be sacrilege to the sanctity of tea? Also, for which teas and how much sugar do you typically use (.5 tsps)?

Many thanks!

Flavors: Apple Candy, banana, Caramel

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML
Butiki Teas

So glad you are happy with our service! :) I think I know why the tea didn’t have much staying power. We usually recommend 2 teaspoons for just under 250 ml of water.

I personally don’t use sugar but I always offer it for my guests. Sugar really brings out the flavorings, so I often recommend it for flavored teas. When I serve tea with sugar, I use just under a tablespoon of brown crystal sugar (that sugar is much less sweet than cane sugar).


Aha! Thank you, Stacy. Wasn’t sure how much water to use for the sample. The Breville has a 500mL min so that’s my usual default. This tea is so well received within the steepster community that I will definitely give it another try, and I’m looking forward to the Pistachio and Boracay Breeze that I must sample soon as well!


I use honey now but at first I used rock sugar and now only use it occasionally.


A delight! I have tried honey at a local tea shop (Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party), also a great charity for education in India, but I have yet to apply it to mine own western steeps.

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I don’t suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

I am a 21 year old student at Georgia Tech studying Business and Computer Science. I enjoy working out, going to local coffee shops, playing board games, reading, and watching film. My brother is studying film in SoCal – you can find his work at my website url. He doesn’t know that I’ve included it, but I’m his biggest fan.


0-59: F
This tea fails me so! O how this does not suit me! A million sighs. Bleghch uchgh

60-69: D
Needs work, son. Not my cup of tea. Will not be trying again, but won’t knock it. Did not enjoy.

70-79: C
Alas! I see how others may enjoy this tea, but mine own taste buds have not come around to the party. Sully were my expectations to not have matched the profile of the tea. Just O.K.

80-89: B
Hey now! Not bad, I actually really like this tea! I did something right here. I must study this. Up my alley.

90-99: A
Goodness me! I love this tea, and I will be purchasing this again.

100: Super-A
Oh Sweet Buttercups! This tea is the belle of the ball! Ecstasy.

The World is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot forever fence it out.


Atlanta, GA



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