336 Tasting Notes


This is a backlog from Friday because Cup 2 proved my review of Cup 1 to be a boldfaced lie. :P And 1) my computer was Down With the Sickness and 2) I was busy helping my parents last-minute clean the house for a rare visitor. For the longest time, my parents were self-conscious about the house, but since we’ve gotten a lot of things redone, it’s a much nicer-looking place.

You know how I said I couldn’t taste the Dian Hong flavor progression? Lies! Once the tea had the chance to cool and mellow a bit, I realized the brightness I was getting at the beginning of the sip was partly due to that Bailin Bongfu-esque earthiness, which tastes slightly citrusy or something when you have rose flavoring. As it stays on the tongue, it does darken and malten (it’s a real word now!), you just still have that floral overtone. And even that mellows out a bit as it cools. It’s really quite a pleasant cup. I’m considering it for a restock once the sample’s gone.

But my favorite part? The wet leaves with the rosebuds. They really do smell like roses!

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Writing this on my phone because my computer is Down With The Sickness. Oh nooooo…

There are little rose buds in the tea! Not just leaves, but full-on rose buds. It’s precious! I even had to show my mom. Apparently rose hips are a source of Vitamin C?

The dry leaves definitely smell sweet and rose like; the tea smells like a sweet Dian Hong. The flavor of the rose is unexpectedly bright. It’s kind of perfume-like, but there’s also some vegetable it’s reminding me of. There is maltiness late in the sip, but besides that I really don’t get the Dian Hong chameleon-flavor in this tea, although I can tell it’s a black base.

No numbers for now. This may be one to get used to.


Sounds interesting!

I hope your computer recovers! :O /0\


Thanks, me too! :/

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drank Mi Xian Black by Butiki Teas
335 tasting notes

Sipping down my sample from Nicole this morning.

It’s been an odd morning – slept really hard and had weird dreams, woke up tired even though I slept for 8.5 hours, it’s rainy as heck, and I was going to practice my bass but then decided at the last minute that I should probably help get the house ready for my friend coming over tomorrow.

I underleafed it again. Good thing I’ve still got some wet leaves to resteep for work. This flavor is exactly the bold, smooth, comforting thing I need this morning. I’m so glad tomorrow’s Friday.

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drank Earl Grey Cream by Zen Tea
335 tasting notes

Earl Grey Cream? Good LORD it’s Earl Grey Cream! Smell it out of the bag and the first thing I smell is CREAM! Super super sweet CREAM!

I have more of this tea than I originally intended. I was just going to buy a little bit, but then shipping was $5, and I didn’t know/see that other samples would be included, so I bought a bigger bag. I read several reviews on Steepster to find the highest rated EGC, and this one swept them away.

I’m trying to decide how I feel about this tea. The bergamot is pretty punchy, and the vanilla is REALLY REALLY SWEET, and the two flavors put together are kind of like that photo of Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon shaking hands:


OK so drinking tea is a little more fun than they look like they’re having. But like, the two flavors both have such distinctive reputations and personalities, but put together with both flavors turned up to the max, it’s a bit of an awkward combo, at least to my tastebuds. I think it’s the vanilla’s fault; it’s a little too sweet for me. Which was what I was afraid would happen. Maybe it’s something I’ll get used to, but I think I prefer Mahamosa’s version.

I feel like I’m the Simon Cowell of Steepster Idol! I keep having cynical things to say about teas everyone else raves about!

That said, however, I have a side question. Pumpkin flavored teas. I want access to pumpkin flavored beverages without always having to go to Starbucks for their pumpkin spice latte, which I find delicious. What are your recommendations? I’ve heard numerous good things about Butiki’s Pumpkin Creme Brulee.


Of the ones I’ve tried, Della Terra Grandma’s Pumpkin Pie was my favorite. Tealux Pumpkin Spice Rooibos is really good but is more cantaloupe than pumpkin. Fusion Tea Pumpkin Mate is good, but the mate isn’t the best base (but I like it better than their rooibos). Sleepy Hollow Pumpkin Chai – Culinary Teas is too spicy, drowns out the pumpkin. Butiki Pumpkin Creme Brulee didn’t taste like anything (but I know others loved it). Davids Pumpkin Chai had candies in it, and I found that made it taste artificial to me – again others really like it. I’ve tried two from 52teas, and thought they were pumpkin pie spice, but without the pumpkin flavor. That’s all I can think of right now. This is just MHO, you will need to try a few to find what works for you. Good Luck :))


The Presley/Nixon thing really cracked me up. I wish I got the Cowell feeling – I tend to mostly get very paranoid when I despise a much beloved tea; ‘Am I wrong? Are they wrong? Is this the right tea? Are these people BOTS?!’.


Also wow, Dexter, that’s a good list!


That really is a great post, Dexter! I found the same with the ones that I have tried, but never bothered with Della Terra’s Grandma’s Pumpkin Pie since I thought it may be too close to David’s Pumpkin Chai. But now you have me thinking otherwise!


Thanks, Dexter! Now, which one to try first? :D

Anna, don’t worry, I feel the exact same way that you do a lot. There are one or two teas in particular that everyone else considers the Nectar of the Gods that I find absolutely disgusting, and I can’t help wondering, "What am I doing wrong?!? Are we even drinking the same tea? "

Terri HarpLady

I love the Simon reference. I’ve been feeling a bit like Simon as I work my way through the Here’s Hoping Traveling Tea Box (HHTTB). I’ve had very few nice things to say about any of the teas I tried, & I keep reminding myself that (with some obvious exceptions), most of the teas in there are people’s rejects.

Terri HarpLady

The love of my life, Tony, doesn’t hardly ever like any of my teas, & I don’t care much for his favorites either. But we are each entitled to our own opinions, & as I pointed out a long time ago, disagreeing doesn’t make anybody wrong! What’s right for me just isn’t right for him, & I can live with that! We can agree to disagree :)


Nixon and Elvis shaking hands. I think this tea will remind me of that now! haha.

For pumpkin, my favorite is Della Terra’s Grandma’s pumpkin pie because they put something like dried canned pumpkin pie filling in it!


Wow, how did I miss the rest of these comments. Thanks guys, I too am questing for the best pumpkin tea. I keep trying them. I’ve ordered more of Della Terra Grandma’s Pumpkin Pie – it’s the current winner, and I added some of the chocolate pumpkin pie. I’ve also arranged a swap for some of Harney & Sons Pumpkin Spice. Will see how those go.
I think it’s AMAZING how different people have different experiences with teas. I agree with Terri that it doesn’t make anyone right or wrong, they just have different opinions. That’s one of the things I LOVE about Steepster is seeing those differences.
My pumpkin tea experience may be different than yours. I might hate a tea because it’s too spicy, but that spiciness might be what makes you love it. Best advice, try as many as you can – don’t worry about what everyone else thinks. Enjoy the teas that you love. :))

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Backlog from this morning.

One of the samples from Nicole again. Was more careful about proper leafage this time, as well as only steeping it for 3 minutes. It was better. More honey-esque Assam-y flavor as well as more body. I dunno, I read things about Assams and I haven’t found one that matches up to my mental image of what I get when I read those things. I keep picturing a REALLY boldly malty and rich cup, and all the ones I’ve tried are not as bold or as malty as what I imagine. Then again, I haven’t tried all the Assam samplers I have yet… :D


I know what you meana bout not finding one that has matched up with your idea of what it ought to taste like given reviews and such. I’ve found I enjoy my assam a lot more when I steep it for like, ten minutes (I had butiki’s PTA this morning and did just that, and it worked wonders).


Yeah, you might give Butiki’s Assams a try. 10 minutes on this one would probably be enough to pucker wood. :) Hattiali Golden Lion Assam from Butiki is pretty fab.


Might also look for tippy Assams. I sometimes find those to be maltier.

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Wait a minute I logged this before? When??? I don’t remember this tasting note. I remember there was one oolong I tried to do, but I crapped it up so much I didn’t even bother with a tasting note, and I thought this was it. Apparently not, because it appears I’ve rated the damn thing, and quite highly too. Argh! My short-term memory SUCKS!

I’ve found I don’t much care for the roasty-oolong flavor I get a lot, so I did this for about 1 min 15 sec (especially since the water was still a little on the hot side.) It’s quite pleasant. I need to stop comparing everything to bai mu dan, but honestly, that’s what it makes me think of out of the other teas I’ve tried. It’s grassy, but it’s also a little floral and sweet in a delicate, enjoyable way. A bit of brightness on top of that sweetness too, in a way I really can’t quite define. I’m wondering what would happen if I tried it for a little longer?

Also, for the love of god, somebody please start reminding me to use bottled and/or filtered water for my tea. I’ve been trying to be more careful with all the other variables in my tea-making, but for some reason, water is the one element people talk about making a big difference, and I’ve just always been kind of punk rock about it. We get well water out here, or we used to, and I’ve found it to be the most “neutral” tasting of the waters I’ve tried, but I’ve never given really good filtered water a try.

200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 15 sec

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drank Arabian Night by Zen Tea
335 tasting notes

It’s busy season at work, and as of today it’s gone from “this is busy but manageable and surprisingly fun” to “this is busy and I’m starting to get really mad and I want to yell at someone.” So it’s what I call #@%&$! Tea Time.

This is a sample that Zen Tea Life sent along, and I will never complain about getting free samples, especially ones I don’t expect! The dry leaves smell AMAZING. It’s this fresh, floral, citrusy thing that Cher-slaps you and says, “Snap out of it. You are GOING to relax now.” The tea, however, falls a little short. The thing is, the flavors are all so distinct from one another that when you put them together, it winds up tasting like something that’s not really any of them. It tastes like an artificial version of the dry leaf smell. Then, right before the end of the sip, this slightly cherry-cough-syrup note comes in and it’s not at all present in the dry leaf aroma. And the aftertaste… it’s some weird combo of the cherry-cough-syrup motif and lemon. This kind of reminds me of how I always think fruity/flavored teas are going to taste and why I stay away from them.

I wouldn’t quite call it unpleasant, just pretty unimpressive, especially given how wonderful the dry leaves smelled. Glad to have tried it, though.

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 15 sec

aw, that’s like when the dough tastes better than the cookies. =0(


Yes! I should just use the tea as potpourri and eat the cookie dough and the salmonella will be worth it. :P

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Got my Zen Tea Life order of this this morning, along with some free samples that I wasn’t expecting! Sweet!

But I still have a couple cups of the sample left, so I shall work on that first. Still delicious, still comforting. Mouthfeel is SO creamy.

Aaaaargh! Why is it so warm in the house this morning?!? I’m gonna go take a shower and play trumpet in the basement!

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I went on a casual date last night. The guy messaged me afterward, and this morning I sent the “hey-I’m-not-really-into-dating-right-now-but-thanks-for-meeting-me” reply. Which shouldn’t sound like a big deal, but these kinds of things (possibly hurting someone’s feelings and/or making them upset) drive my anxiety THROUGH THE ROOF! Why am I so bad at handling these things? Sometimes I wish I was the kind of person who just… didn’t give a damn about what other people think.

…Sorry for the rant. I’m stressed and I don’t feel like I should be stressed and somehow that’s making it worse. Mmmm guilt complex.

So I’m drinking my comfort tea. I used 3 pearls per cup, which I’ve found is my happy place. I keep trying to find other chocolatey/malty teas, and there are some reeeeeeally really good ones out there, but somehow, it all comes back to this. I wonder if that’s because this is the first tea of its kind that I tried? It’s just so… perfect. Until I drank it, I doubted it was even possible to have a tea that smelled so much like real cocoa. (Cacao?)

Also, I would like to point out that I got mad that Steepster ate my note – and then I opened my other window and realized I hadn’t published it yet. I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-R-T! I mean S-M-A-R-T!


I haven’t dated since I broke up with my ex-fiance 3 years ago.I’m ready to date but fr the exact same reasons you described above, I kind of have avoided it. You’re braver than me just for getting out there on a date!

Terri HarpLady

I’m SO grateful to be out of the dating pool! After my divorce I spent 4 years only dating myself, LOL. It was good for me to sort of fall in love with myself, figure out what I really wanted & liked, & when I started dating men again I made a promise to me that I would not become a reflection of whoever I was with, & that I would stay true to me. It’s better to be alone & happy, than to cave in. People tend to go into an avoidance pattern because they don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings, but Being straightforward & honest is the best thing you can do. Coming right out & saying thanks, but no thanks, frees the other person from wondering & frees you from anxiety.


I get this. Balancing appropriate levels of compromise with a steadfast commitment to “being true to yourself” is so difficult at the best of times.


I get like that in general because I care too much about what other people think, but I think you just need to put yourself first.


I really appreciate your guys’ comments; I feel much more encouraged and it’s good to know I’m not the only one who feels this way!

@Terri HarpLady – That’s exactly why I’m calling it off now rather than farther down the line! I tend to get incredibly stressed out whenever I start trying to date, and I’ve decided that until I find someone I really want to be with, I’d rather be single. I get angsty about not having that fairytale romance you hear about all the time, but at the end of the day, I prefer having me to myself. : )

Terri HarpLady

Yup! When me, myself, & I were dating we did whatever ‘we’ wanted to do. Before that, I always gave myself away in relationships. Somewhere I read the saying,“I’m not looking for the right person, I’m becoming the right person.” I made a list of all the qualities I wanted in a partner, then I worked on embodying all those qualities myself, being that person for myself. Once I started dating again, if it didn’t work out for me, I asked myself why, which helped redefine the ‘list’. I pretty much concluded that I’d rather be alone. Then I met Tony. We’ve been together 13+ years. We still each live in our own houses, LOL, he pretty much did the same thing I did, so we each like spending lots of time alone, but luckily we also like spending time together! :)


You found Earl Grey Creams and Dragon Pearls around the same time? Nice! Those are my two favorites!


Terri, I’ve never met you in person, but just from reading your writings on Steepster I have to admit I find myself kind of looking up to you. You seem like an awesome person and I just really like your way of viewing the world.

@Tea Sipper – actually, I’ve been a fan of the Dragon Pearls for a few months now, but those are my two favorites as well! They’re the two teas that I started craving after finishing one cup. :D

Terri HarpLady

Wow, thanks! :)
I just like to enjoy the bliss of the moment, if you know what I mean, & I do my best to avoid misery, LOL.


So even though this post was 6 months ago – I needed to comment on a couple of things: 1. I think I probably NEED this tea and 2. LADIES – this discussion is so resonant. Terri, I admire anyone who is at home in theirself as you seem to be (awe inspiring grammar what?) and TeaKlutz, I like the way you write. Being your authentic self is hard sometimes but the rewards are worth it. I liked reading this post and the comments. Thanks.


MzPriss – 1) You do NEED this tea. It is killer diller. 2) I’m flattered, and I’m glad you found truth and resonance in this discussion. The comments on this post helped me a LOT. :D


I just ordered a tin of this.

Terri HarpLady

(just smiling & waving at everybody)

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drank Classic Earl Grey by Butiki Teas
335 tasting notes

First off, I apologize if anybody’s been getting double likes from me on their posts? I don’t even know if Steepster does that, but… I go through and “like” every post I read, but when I do it on my phone, it doesn’t show me as having liked the post when I’m back on my laptop. So if it appears I’m being extra, extra enthusiastic about your tasting note, I’m not trying to be a creeper, technology is just silly!

Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.

Mmm. This truly is a Classic Earl Grey. The bergamot flavor is very assertive without being overpowering or chemical. It’s a very robust morning cup. Maybe I’m being influenced by the name, but to me EG’s always taste like a brisk, gray morning with mist hanging from last night’s rain. Even though it’s not pumpkin-y or any of those traditional “fall” flavors, somehow it tastes like the cold, light-gray part of fall that I secretly kind of love.

Still think the EG cream is my favorite, but I’m glad to have tried a high-quality straight-up Earl. It’s certainly made me have a higher appreciation for bergamot.

Thanks again to Nicole for the sample!

Boiling 3 min, 15 sec

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The name’s Holly. 27. Work for a small IT company. About to finish a Master’s degree this winter. ISFJ for what it’s worth. I play various instruments (mostly bass guitar right now), attempt to write songs that I’m too scared to play for anyone, and I’m currently taking voice lessons. I also enjoy starting various hobbies, wearing monochromes, writing, cooking, taking walks, and various and sundry other things…

I’ve been a tea drinker since spring of 2013. Tea is a source of happiness, positivity, curiosity, and relaxation (…and caffeine) for me.

I’ve been on and off this site over the years, and I even had a separate tea blog at one point. For now, I’m just working on getting back in the habit of enjoying tea regularly and to its fullest.

Love: Malty Chinese black teas, shu/ripe pu erhs, soft flowery teas (esp. jasmine teas)

Like: Japanese green teas, sheng/ripe pu erhs, white teas

Still trying to get into: Most oolongs, chai teas

Not crazy about: Roasty teas, fruity teas, rooibos, many (not all) herbal teas

90-100: YEAH!
80-89: Nice! This is good stuff.
70-79: Respectable tea.
60-69: Not bad.
50-59: Middling. Not really worth it.
25-49: Eeeeeugh. Not good.
0-24: Did you know you can use tea leaves as odor absorbent?



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