972 Tasting Notes

drank Ball & Chain by Indie Tea
972 tasting notes

Finally getting around to trying some more of the teas from my December Amoda box. I was actually really excited to see this one, as I’d been eyeing it on Amoda’s website for a while. I love dates, so it was a must-try for me. Luckily, it was included in the box so I don’t have to buy it separately! The base tea is a heavily oxidized oolong (it’s called Se Chung but that doesn’t help me). Dry scent is a nice combination of sweet, roasted, and nutty.

Honestly, I was hoping for more date flavor, but I suppose that was foolish of me considering it’s just the date pieces and not date flavoring. In my experience, dried fruit pieces don’t tend to add much flavor-wise. The oolong itself is nice, it’s roasted but not too harsh (I find some taste almost scratchy to me, like autumn leaves). There’s a subtle sweetness from the dates and a tiny bit of honey-esque flavor. It’s good, but I don’t think the dates add much.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Honey, Nuts, Roasted, Sweet

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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This sample came from my holiday package from cookies. I really like melon and melon-flavored things, and honeydew happens to be my favorite. It just so happens that I also enjoy a nice sencha, so this tea seems perfect for me! I’m surprised I didn’t request it myself when I got my free Bird Pick samples… Anyway! The sencha leaves are nice and intact, somewhat large and steamed flat. There are also some golden flower petals included in the blend. Dry scent is nicely sweet and melon-y with perhaps a touch of fishiness? Odd.

The steeped tea also smells like sweet, crisp honeydew with a bit of a fish edge. The green tea itself is actually quite savory, which makes for an odd combination with the sweet honeydew. It in fact has a strong umami characteristic which almost borders on fishy (but not quite). The combination of the base and the honeydew almost reminds me of eating jicama or a similar crunchy but wet vegetable (broccoli stems? raw potato?). It’s not bad, it’s just a bit odd. I think this is just a case of the wrong choice of base tea for the flavoring.

Flavors: Grass, Honeydew, Nutty, Potato, Umami, Vegetal

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

I’ve tried all of their flavored senchas (I’m not far from their Pasadena shop) and they do use a weird base. I picked up their Caramel Sencha and it was not a success. It was only available in bags so the leaves were pretty ground up. It tasted like stewed spinach with caramel on it, I’m not kidding.

Cameron B.

I wanted to try the vanilla version, but they were sold out. Now I’m kind of glad that was the case… :P

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drank Cream of Earl Grey by Tealated
972 tasting notes

Another free sample from Tealated. Wow, the reviews on this tea are crazy and varied! It kind of scares me a bit. Truth be told, I had a hard time finding teas I was interested to try from Tealated since I tend to drink mostly straight blacks. I do enjoy earl grey sometimes, so I chose this because nothing else seemed appealing. It appears to be a mix of medium-sized black leaves and little CTC pearls. There are also blue flower petals included. Dry scent is bergamot and very custardy vanilla.

The steeped tea smells really good actually, the vanilla pudding sort of aroma is quite strong. I don’t find this offensive in the least, like a couple of others seemed to. I do wish there was just a bit more vanilla taste and a bit less bergamot, but I tend to like my bergamot on the lighter side. It’s a perfectly decent earl grey with a touch of vanilla/cream.

Flavors: Bergamot, Cream, Vanilla

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Black Supreme by Tealated
972 tasting notes

This (generous) sample was provided for free in exchange for subscribing to Tealated’s email newsletter. (I don’t remember whether reviews were promised or not, but I’m going to assume they were!) This is a blend of black teas, though they don’t tell you which black teas, which is one of my pet peeves with tea sellers. It appears to be a mix of a CTC black and a broken leaf black, and I’m sure there’s probably Assam in there somewhere. Dry scent is mostly musty hay.

This is just okay for me. To its credit, it didn’t get bitter even though the leaves are broken. The flavor is just kind of generic “black tea”, so I’m not sure whether it’s Ceylon or Assam or what, but most likely it’s comprised of those two. It’s not bad, it’s smooth with no astringency, but it’s a tad boring.

Flavors: Hay, Malt, Smooth, Tea

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

I need to try my Tealated samples.


Thanks for trying our tea!

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Another sample from miss anonymous! I was happy to see this one, as I’ve tried a couple of Mandala’s black teas before and found them yummy. This one looks like a lovely fluffy pure bud Yunnan. The buds are floofy and fuzzy and about half golden, half grey. I can’t comment on the scent because everything from this package seems to smell vaguely of cinnamon, teehee.

Steeped, it smells amazingly milk chocolaty with some stonefruit (oooooh chocolate-covered dried apricots?!). Taste-wise, it’s very light. I can definitely taste that creamy milk chocolate flavor, but there’s also a light savory taste that I generally find in Yunnan teas. It’s an interesting combination! The stonefruit, specifically apricot, is also quite present, especially near the end of the sip. Yummy!

Flavors: Apricot, Chocolate, Malt, Smooth, Thick

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

Hmmmmm that sounds awesome – may have to place a Mandala order soon.
Happy New Year Cameron!!!

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Another tea from my anonymous tea friend! I’m not familiar with this type of blend, but according to tea chat, it’s supposed to be heavy on the Assam. The leaves are all very broken, which made me worry a bit about how long to let them steep without bitterness. There are a few golden pieces mixed in among mostly black leaves. I decided to go with 2.5 minutes instead of my usual 3 (I also actually used a level teaspoon instead of my usual heaped one).

The steeped tea smells quite nice – heavy on the molasses and honey notes. Thankfully, it didn’t come out bitter. This is definitely a kick-in-the-pants type of tea though, it’s quite strong and could easily handle adding milk. I do taste some of that molasses goodness, along with a touch of hay. Actually, this is kind of reminding me of a black tea version of Bai Hao. Pretty tasty overall. :)

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Hay, Malt, Molasses, Tannic

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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This sample was part of a gift from an anonymous Steepster friend. The leaves are very cool, and just looking at them I can understand why this tea is called “Twirl”. They’re quite thin and dark and a bit twisty and twirly. Uh oh, I hope I didn’t ruin this with my steeping parameters, as I steeped it like a black tea while others steeped it like a green…

Well, it doesn’t taste ruined… Huzzah! This is a very interesting one, it reminds me slightly of Darjeeling because it has some floral and spice-like flavors, but it’s definitely something all its own, too. I can taste the green tea part of it, and it’s extremely nutty with just a little bit of vegetal. I also taste creamy baked bread and some honey notes. Surprisingly, it’s not bitter or astringent even though I steeped it hotter than intended. It’s like a Frankentea! A combination of a nutty Long Jing, Darjeeling, and perhaps a lighter Keemun. :P

Flavors: Baked Bread, Floral, Honey, Nutty, Spices, Thick, Vegetal

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

Sounds yummy! And I’ve been meh about DT lately.

Cameron B.

Yeah, I’m normally the same way with their flavored teas. This one is tasty, too bad they don’t offer it anymore. :(

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drank Swampwater by DAVIDsTEA
972 tasting notes

This sample came out of a lovely holiday package from a Steepsterite who would rather remain anonymous. I wasn’t sure what to expect from it as the name is decidedly unappetizing, but the included flavors sound fruity and nice. I was confused by the addition of sprinkles until I saw the color of the steeped tea – dark sludgy green/black. Dry, the tea smells fruity and somewhat tart.

Meh, there’s not enough flavor here for me. Green rooibos is very mild to begin with, and the fruit flavoring is quite subtle, so it kind of ends up tasting like a big cup of bland. And for some reason it’s making my throat scratchy/itchy, which isn’t something that usually happens to me with rooibos. I guess this one’s just not for me!

Flavors: Fruity

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank BB Detox by Kusmi Tea
972 tasting notes

Another grapefruit tea that I forgot about! I’ve actually been wanting to try this one for a while, so I was very happy to find an individually-wrapped sachet in my holiday package from Marzipan. Thanks, dear! The green tea and mate is quite crushed inside the sachet, and I can see kernels of some type of spice or herb. Dry scent is mostly grapefruit with a touch of spice.

The steeped tea smells pretty heavily spiced and perhaps with licorice as well. This is actually pretty refreshing. There’s a nice amount of sweet grapefruit flavor combined with the herbaceous mate and a bit of herb/spice taste. It definitely tastes like something you would drink at a spa, and I bet it would be tasty cold as well.

Flavors: Grapefruit, Herbs, Mint, Spices, Sweet

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Yuzu Kukicha by Den's Tea
972 tasting notes

Well, this is the closest thing I have to a grapefruit tea after that Adagio sample. At least I know this one will be high quality! Stephanie and I split a package of this since neither of us wanted a full 2 ounces without trying it first. Yay for tea frens! I really liked the two Kukichas I tried recently from Yunomi, so I’m excited for this one. Inside the pouch are flat green stems along with teeny pieces of citrus peel, all coated in fine green powder. Dry scent is fairly strong on the citrus (I’ve never had a yuzu before, but I would describe the scent as somewhere between tangerine and lemon).

There’s actually not a lot of yuzu flavor in the taste, but it’s very delicious overall. The kukicha is mildly grassy/vegetal with a ton of sweetness (probably from the matcha as well). The yuzu flavor is more of an accent than the star. There’s just a bit of citrusy freshness that pops out at some moments, and especially in the aftertaste. Overall, it’s sweet, creamy, and delicious!

Flavors: Citrus, Creamy, Grass, Lemon, Peas, Sweet, Vegetal

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Hello, my name is Cameron. I’m 25 years old and currently living in New York state with my lovely boyfriend (a software architect). I am currently not employed, which leaves plenty of time for cooking and tea-drinking! I am a staunch lover of pugs and other squishy-face dogs, although sadly I do not currently have one. :(

I originally got into tea a couple of years ago. My sister introduced me to Teavana (there was a store in the nearby mall) and I was hooked. I have just started to drink tea again and I am very grateful to have found this community where there are so many with experience and wisdom to share!

I am a shameless Western steeper!

I love swaps! If you see something in my cupboard that you’d like to try, shoot me a private message and we’ll work something out!

My general tea info:

Taiwanese Blacks
Yunnans (esp. Pure Bud)
Lightly Roasted Oolongs
Japanese Greens
Most “Dessert” Flavors (caramel, toffee, butterscotch, cake, cookie, etc.)

Favorite Companies:
Capital Tea Limited
Yunnan Sourcing

Not A Fan
High Mountain Oolong
Overly Floral (esp. Rose)
Strong Licorice Root
Rose Hip
Strong Bergamot

Rating Scale:

90-100: Spectacular, a staple
80-89: Delicious, might buy again
70-79: Pretty good, won’t repurchase
60-69: Just “okay”
00-59: Undrinkable!


Saratoga Springs, New York

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