134 Tasting Notes

drank Lychee Barley by Lupicia
134 tasting notes

Giving this one another try with a pinch of coconut sugar, and slightly less hot water (I didn’t measure the temperature, but it was less than boiling, probably around 180F). Due to either the lower temperature, or the fact that I’ve opened the packaging a few times, the lychee aroma was less intense this time. While I love lychee, it can be too much of a good thing, especially if it’s anything like the lychee jelly sometimes found in bubble tea. So I’m happy that this tea no longer reminds me of that! The brew is still roasty goodness, and the barley does benefit from the sugar, which gives it a touch of caramelized sweetness. (increased rating)

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drank Golden Honey Dew by Lupicia
134 tasting notes

I saw the San Francisco blends on sale in my local (decidedly far from San Francisco) store, and picked the one that seemed most appealing. I’d wanted to try the Napa Blanc as well, but the sample smelled much too strongly of grapes, so I probably wasn’t going to be a fan.

This one, on the other hand, smells like a mouthwatering honeydew melon. It’s not too strong, and the flavor is softer than the aroma, with an additional mellow, honey-like sweetness, an almost creamy finish. Reminds me a little of the honeydew ice cream bars you can find in Asian grocery stores, without the sugariness.

I don’t have much experience with green rooibos teas, though I’ve heard their flavor is not very strong, so I’m not sure how much the base is contributing here. But it is a very fresh-tasting tea and a nice caffeine-free treat in the evening.

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drank Kumquat by Lupicia
134 tasting notes

More Lupicia because I gave in and visited the store again. This was one of their seasonal teas that I really kicked myself for not getting last time, so of course I came home with it this time.

The blend is black tea with kumquat peel. Kumquat is one of my favorite hard-to-find fruits, and this tea captures that tart, sweet, citrus fragrance perfectly. The tea brews up to an orange amber color, and the tea base is clean and crisp-tasting. In a hot brew, the kumquat zing is delicious and quite sweet, in a way that reminds me of Korean citron tea, which has honey as well as citrus peels in it. Cold brew is less sweet and very refreshing.

I think I’ve been giving out a lot of high ratings lately, but I don’t feel that I’m being indiscriminate, maybe it just means I’ve gotten better at finding what I like!

Cameron B.

Ooh, this one sounds good. I’ll have to consider it for my Lupicia order…


LOL, that is going to be the most epically well-researched order at this rate!


oh, I’ll have to look for this :)

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drank Red Queen Cupcake by Butiki Teas
134 tasting notes

Tea for a cool and gray (finally) morning! There’s a lot going on in this blend: in addition to small, dark, typical Assam-looking tea leaves, there are large strawberry pieces, pink flowers, and an abundance of chocolate chips. I tasted one and it was very creamy and rich, not dry or bitter as I was expecting for some reason. The smell is invitingly rich and cake-like, very strawberries-and-cream with a touch of cocoa and espresso. Now the question of how does it taste? Many teas that smell like a decadent dessert end in tragedy in this department, but this one is quite delicious. The strawberry sweetness is very fresh but not over-the-top, and is tempered just right by the combination of espresso and a light natural astringency from the assam. The coffee fragrance as well as the chocolate flavor gets stronger with a longer brew time, probably due to the chocolate chips melting. And it is a very sweet, inviting sort of chocolatey note that takes me right back to childhood. This tea does have a very rich, almost buttery feel, so it may not be for everyone, but I found that doesn’t detract in this case. And on a final note, it brews up to the most beautiful, soft red color that has me wanting to take a picture of my teacup for the first time!

And now I’ll have to revise my profile so it no longer says I haven’t found a good chocolate-heavy tea yet…

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You know, I was almost hoping I wouldn’t like this one. Thus far, I hadn’t found a white tea blend that wasn’t seriously hampered by fruit/floral additions. Could such a thing exist? Well, if anyone could do it, Stacy at Butiki probably could—but I already knew that if I liked this one, I’d want to try some of the other white blends while they’re still available (Lemon French Macaron is calling my name). So that will only add to the problem of too many teas that I’ll be loathe to part with!

Well, this one is in fact pretty good. The blend consists of silver needles and pink fuzzy amaranth buds, and has a fresh, juicy watermelon scent. The brewed tea is almost colorless, with that same watermelon flavor, sweet but delicate and not excessive. The good thing about this tea is that once it’s cooled and steeped for longer, the natural fragrance of the white tea itself comes through—honey-sweet, vegetal, and distinct from the melon flavor. It’s a very “cooling” tea, somehow, and there’s almost a hint of mintiness to it. In fact, a good comparison for it would be to an after-dinner mint instead of a sugary dessert, it’s very nice as a palette-cleanser tea. (And after all, watermelon often serves the same purpose at restaurants in China during the summer months!) So now, time to think about what else I want to try…

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drank The Black Lotus by Butiki Teas
134 tasting notes

Another lovely offering from Butiki. This one is a mixture of black tea leaves of various sizes, mostly very dark and twisty, with a few green leaves and golden frayed ones. It’s hard to believe from the aroma that there’s nothing but tea leaves in this blend, there’s such a bouquet of varying kinds of sweetness. The tea brews up to a clear, golden amber color. The flavor is malty and sweet, with a rich, complex feel and a lingering fuzzy finish that almost resembles a “golden” Yunnan black tea. There is a floral yet starchy-sweet undertone as well, and a note of roasted nuts. Overall, there’s a lot going on here without being overwhelming, as it is quite smooth and light except for the breakfast-tea-worthy caffeine kick. Wish I had more of this as well!

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drank Hello Sweetie by Butiki Teas
134 tasting notes

I’ve wanted to try this tea for a long time, since it always seemed to float to the top of popular/recommended teas here on Steepster, and finally ordered some last week. I’m very sad that Butiki is closing, but glad I have the opportunity to try some of their creations.

And this tea, well, all the rave reviews are totally justified in my opinion! The blend has visible coconut pieces and flower petals, and the aroma is of fresh, natural-seeming coconut as well, which I’m a big fan of. I was expecting predominately coconut in the flavor as well, but there’s a nice surprising complexity to it. There’s banana, and when have I ever liked banana? The answer is never—until now! The flavors blend together smoothly like a banana coconut cream pie, and it’s not too sweet, not at all artificial, and perfectly cozy with a nice smooth base. This tea really restores my faith in flavored blends, if it had been lacking in the first place, and I’m sad that I didn’t order more. But I wouldn’t want to be the person who bought out the stock of it either, haha.

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drank Cassis & Blueberry by Lupicia
134 tasting notes

Sipdown! It seems that with newer teas, my policy is often Last In, First Out, especially if it comes in a relatively small quantity. The teas that I’ve had for a while are the ones I’m reluctant to part with, even if there’s only a little bit left.

Anyway, I took a good look at the sachet this time, and found a few round, dark berries in it. Might be the blueberries or cassis, they were quite dessicated so it was difficult to tell. But it’s nice to see there are actual fruit in this blend. As always, the flavor of this tea is very crisp and light. I think it will be fine to drink this late in the evening…

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drank Lychee Barley by Lupicia
134 tasting notes

I forgot to log this and now I’m halfway through the bag. Oops…

The lychee flavoring is a little bit too strong with this one. The smell is rather intense and sweet and distinctively lychee-like, but once it’s brewed up, it’s a nicely roasty barley tea with just the lightest hint of lychee flavor. The barley base is good and substantial, and I’ll be happy to have some kind of barley tea from Lupicia around at all times. I probably won’t try all the flavors though…

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Thanks to Cameron B for a generously-sized sample of this tea!

This one has long, dark twisty leaves, similar to other dancongs I have tried. The aroma is roasty with hints of grapefruit. With a short (1 min) infusion, the grapefruit note is very present, along with a bright repertoire of spice and wood notes. If sparkling afternoon sunlight had a flavor, it would be something like this. With a 3-4 min infusion (I lost track a little bit), the overall effect is smokier, with a slightly bitter edge to the flavor becoming like grapefruit rinds. The recommendation is for 1-5 min, so a longer infusion apparently doesn’t hurt.

I’ve been finding that I really enjoy dancong teas, and this is a good addition to the ones that I’ve tried. It is somewhat lighter than the ones from Verdant and Whispering Pines, and maybe not so friendly to gongfu brewing, but good for brewing longer.

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Biologist, aspiring writer, and a cat that learned to type.

I grew up in a tea-loving family, and tea has always been a part of the daily life. I’m still astounded by the amount of tea and teaware back home every time I visit! While I’m most familiar with straight Chinese teas, I’m growing to explore and appreciate other types of tea, including blended and flavored ones. A good blend can reflect the thought and creativity that was put into making it, instead of being too sweet or busy in a way that gives the “genre” a bad rap.

-most black teas (even lapsang)
-most oolongs, especially Fujian teas, baozhong and dancong
-straight white teas (very few flavored)

-most green teas
-tie guan yin

90-100: definite repurchase if possible, recommended
80-90: enjoyed, might repurchase
70-80: fair to good, wouldn’t mind a cup now and then
60-70: not great, won’t actively warn people away from it
50-60: there’s still a chance I’d take this if it were free
under 50: didn’t like it


Southern California

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