636 Tasting Notes

drank Finest Gyokuro by Fortnum & Mason
636 tasting notes

This was my husband’s choice of afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason during our London honeymoon. (For more details on our fantastic afternoon tea experience, see this tasting note: http://steepster.com/Charoma/posts/199271).

He generously shared a few sips with me. ;) And wow! This was one delicious tea! It was buttery and crisp and smooth. Not bitter or astringent in the least. Just a perfect cup of Gyokuro! I highly recommend it to any green tea lovers.


Afternoon tea at F&M is seriously the best. <3


It really is!

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On our honeymoon, my husband and I went to Fortnum & Mason to have afternoon tea! What could be more fun than having traditional high tea in London?? :D I made reservations at the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon in Piccadilly about a week or so before we left. We were seated in a gorgeous tea room with a live pianist. We ordered from the standard “Fortnum’s Afternoon Tea” menu, which comprised of a different pot of tea for each of us, finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and preserves, and afternoon tea cakes.

OMG YUM!!!! Everything was to die for delicious! I was swooning with every bite and sip. The finger sandwiches were cucumber with mint butter, coronation chicken, rare roast beef with gherkin and caper dressing, rare breed hen egg with mustard cress, and Fortnum’s smoked salmon with lemon dill butter. Wow! Soooo good! And I don’t even like half that stuff, LOL!

The scones were the epitome of perfection. The clotted cream (which I don’t think I’ve ever had before) was melt in your mouth delicious. We had lemon curd and raspberry preserve, which were equally tasty. The individual cakes and patisseries were super cute and super yummy. I swear they served us a rose eclair! Click here to see photos: http://instagram.com/p/f0K-Agl-lN/ and http://instagram.com/p/f0LmSKl-mA/

I highly recommend a stop at Fortnum & Mason if you’re ever in London. Even if you don’t want to have afternoon tea, their store is HUGE! I’m talking five levels of awesomeness. They sell all manor of things from jackets, scarves, gloves, and fancy lady hats, to Christmas ornaments and decorations, jewelry, perfume, wedding cakes, chocolates, and of course, all things tea! I wanted to get a souvenir teacup, but the cheapest one I could find was about $75. O_O Yeaaah…I didn’t get the teacup.


This tea was very delicious! It is pretty much everything I’d want a Ceylon tea to be. It did tend to go bitter since all the leaves were left in the pot. After finishing the first pot, they brought me more hot water, and then I could steep one cup at a time. It was much more enjoyable this way.

I think the waiters thought I was funny because when I asked for more hot water, they said, “Would you like a new pot of tea?” I told them I was fine with re-steeping the same leaves, and really they had a lot of flavor left in them! I enjoyed many delicious infusions. Come to think of it, maybe they just wanted to charge me more money for a new pot? I don’t know.

The entire experience was absolutely perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing. We left completely full and absolutely happy. I don’t think I’ll ever eat such delicious scones or clotted cream ever again. Perfection, I tell you! This tea seems to be fairly priced as well. According to their website, you can buy 50g for £7.50, which is about $12.25. Of course, I just went on a crazy shopping spree on the 52teas website and purchased about $70 worth of tea. At a discount, mind you! I only paid $55. ;) So, this purchase will have to wait. But if you enjoy Ceylon teas, this one is great!!


Looks delicious! The decor almost looks retro 60’s elegant…like I remember my grandmother having when I was little. Her house was on the Peninsula Home Tour during the Holiday Season (San Francisco area). Proper dining room and china from Bavaria and real silver. Bygone era.


Well, doesn’t that just look like three tiers of pure delight?? I’m so glad you got to try clotted cream, which is my favorite condiment OF ALL TIME. Once you’ve had it on scones, you’ll never go back to eating them plain. My husband and I got a jar of it at World Market so we could have it when I make scones at home. It was definitely worth it! It’s one of those foreign cultural products that doesn’t have any problems with international shipping (unlike, for example, real Guinness).


I love Fortnum & Mason’s teas! And that afternoon tea sounds wonderful.


Ooh, thanks for the tip about World Market! I’ll have to stop by and pick up some clotted cream. Mmmm! :)

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I enjoyed a takeaway cup of this while on my honeymoon. We had just left the Louvre and were walking through an underground passageway filled with shops when I spotted a Mariage Frères store! I immediately went inside and bought some Sablés au Thé in Marco Polo flavoring and a cup of this tea. :) I didn’t take notes while I drank it, but I remember it being a lovely green tea with delicious yet natural flavoring.

I wanted to buy more tea, but food and drink abroad was significantly more expensive than we had anticipated or planned for. The shop itself was fun and different. It was super high-brow. The men who helped me pick a tea were separate from the cashiers, who sat in a little windowed area near the door like a box office at the theatre. And they even served my to-go cup of tea on a platter! Hahaha, it was quite the experience.

Ahh, it’s so nice to be home drinking tea again. France was full of tiny, overpriced shots of espresso. I did try (and buy) some tea while there, but I found that I really relied on multiple espresso shots to get through the day. It was A LOT of walking! We climbed just about everything there is to climb: the Eiffel Tower (we climbed down, not up), the Basilica of Sacré Cœur, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, the Catacombs, and St. Paul’s Cathedral (in London).

It was a fantastic trip, but we are happy to be home again. We definitely live in the best country by far. Go America!! We left the day after the government shutdown started and returned home the night they passed the budget to re-open it. Since I’m a federal employee, I got paid for my time out and didn’t have to use any of my leave! How’s that for timing? I’m still upset the shutdown happened, but there’s a silver lining to everything.


Much love and happiness to you! Not a bad silver lining!

Josie Jade

Sounds like a wonderful honeymoon, and with perfect timing! Congrats on being a newlywed! :)


Congrats to you! Sounds like a fantastic time! :)


Thanks all! ;)

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The dry leaf aroma is strawberry fruit roll-ups! OMG YUM!! The flavor is a soft green tea with a light, natural, strawberry flavor. It isn’t quite as intense as the aroma, but it’s definitely there. I added a little agave and that really made the strawberry pop!

I’ve only recently discovered agave. It’s like honey but different. It’s less viscous, not quite as intense, and sweet in a different way. Like more of a green, vegetal type way. I think I like it more than honey! Mmm, it is a delicious addition to this tea. Thank you to Shmiracles for giving me this sample!

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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This is another free sample I received from Little Red Cup Tea Company in exchange for a review. Wow! This is night and day from the previous tea I drank. This is flavorful and delicious! The leaves themselves seem to be in much better shape too. They’re wavy, fuzzy, whole leaves varying in color from white to dark brown.

I’m going to disagree with most of the other reviewers on here and say that this does taste like a green tea. There’s a soft but apparent grassy note followed by a naturally sweet, vegetal aftertaste. In my opinion, this is a common flavor profile of green teas, while white teas are less fresh cut grass/buttery vegetables and more dry hay/sunshine.

This is a yummy green tea. I’m really enjoying it! Thanks to Little Red Cup for providing a generous sample so I can enjoy it again later. :)

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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I received this sample from Little Red Cup Tea Company just before leaving for my honeymoon. There wasn’t time to try it before I left, so I stored it in my cupboard away from light and moisture. I always feel bad about writing a review that’s anything but glowing when it’s for a tea I’ve received for free, whether that be through a swap or directly from a tea distributor in exchange for a review. Sadly, this is one of those cases.

I believe this tea is about the same quality as most bagged teas, maybe slightly better. The leaves are crushed enough that they’d probably fit in a bagged form as is. The tea produced is not very flavorful, but it’s also not bitter or astringent. I tried brewing this with 2 tsp of leaves in about 8 oz. of water and it was nearly flavorless. With 3 tsp, it’s a little better. However, it’s missing the lovely sweetness and hay-like qualities that I’ve come to love about Bai Mu Dan. It’s just a rather lackluster cup of tea.

That said, it’s not bad. It’s just not great either. If I really needed tea and this was all I had, I’d still drink it. But if I was in the mood for a White Peony tea and had other options, I’d turn elsewhere. Overall, I rate it along the same lines as I rate the bagged teas I used to love before discovering loose leaf. I am glad I had the opportunity to try it though!

180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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drank Jardin Bleu by Dammann Freres
636 tasting notes

Sipdown #45

Thanks to Sil for this sample! The brewed tea aroma is fruit and flowers. Hmm, there’s something weird about this flavor combo. I can’t readily identify the type of fruit or flowers that this tea is supposed to taste like.

I added some almond milk and agave, and now it’s much more to my liking. The black base is calm and floats in the background behind the added flavorings. Overall, this isn’t an incredibly complex or nuanced tea, but it is delicious! Yum!

Please pray for my husband’s father. His name is Bob, and he was just admitted to the hospital tonight with complaints of chest pain. They are doing a cardiac catheterization first thing tomorrow morning to diagnose what’s going on. They currently think he might have a blood clot or some other type of blockage, but we won’t know for sure until they do the diagnostic test tomorrow.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

My prayers with you and your family and that everything will turn out well.


hug i will send positive vibes your way darling.


I wish him and your family the best.


Sending prayers your way!!


Oh no, my thoughts will be with you and bob. Hope he’s ok




Thank you all SOO much for your prayers and kind words! Bob had the cardiac catheterization. The procedure normally lasts 30-60 minutes. He was in surgery for 4 hours. One of his arteries was 100% blocked! The doctors said that they haven’t seen a blockage this large before and that they only had a 20% chance to clear it. However, they kept working at it and didn’t give up (thus explaining why it took 4 hours), and they were able to completely clear the blockage!

Bob’s blood pressure immediately improved, and he is already feeling much better! We are so blessed that he walked into that hospital on his own power. He could have had a heart attack at any minute! Coronary heart disease is the #1 killer in America for both men and women. He had just come for a visit and played tennis with my husband out in the hot sun for hours. It’s simply a miracle that he’s okay!

They have him on new medication to help lower his cholesterol and another one that will scrub his arteries to keep future blockages from happening. This all happened so fast, and it’s already over. I think we’re all in shock. But now we can go on our honeymoon without worrying that he’s going to need a bypass or anything more serious.

It’s just amazing how God took care of him. I am so thankful to be part of this community of genuinely good-hearted people. I’m convinced that this truly is a miracle brought on by everyone’s love, support, and prayers. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!


oh that is AMAAAAZING news. I’m so happy to hear that things went better and that he pulled through. That is incredible news….totally just made my day :) so happy for you!


So glad to hear he’s doing better! Hope you have a great honeymoon. :)

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Sipdown #46

Even the dry leaf aroma is wild! The brewed tea aroma is spicy and nutty. Mmm, this tea is another magical creation of Verdant Tea. This has the full-bodied flavor I expect from Yunnan teas. It’s malty and luscious and just wonderful! At the tail end of the sip, there’s a light floral note that I haven’t encountered in Yunnan teas before.

It’s very flavorful and delicious for the first two infusions. By the third, it was pretty weak with only the aftertaste having any flavor. I tried a fourth infusion for 10 minutes just for the heck of it. Even with such a long steep time, there wasn’t quite enough flavor left to cut through my snack of chickpea popcorn. In my opinion, this tea is good for only two infusions when brewed Western style.

In other news, I’m gearing up for our European honeymoon by downloading tons of apps (especially those with offline maps) and working out the kinks in our itinerary. I CAN’T WAIT!! London and Paris, here we come!

Boiling 1 min, 30 sec

That sounds like a lot of fun!


Wonderful fun!!!

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It’s time for my morning cup of chai! I was all out of my regular chai concentrate mix, and I didn’t feel like running out to the store. I bought this chocolate chai concentrate as soon as it was released. I was super excited for it! After trying it once, I stuck it in the fridge and promptly forgot about it. Well, it’s time to drink and log it properly!

This one will not be replacing my regular chai. The chocolate is like chocolate syrup. It’s very thick and viscous and not at all like the regular chai mix. It just tastes weird and artificial to me. I feel like I’m drinking Hershey’s chocolate syrup with a kick of spice. Blech. That’s just not really my thing.

And to pour salt on the wound, this mix cost an extra $1 more than the regular chai mix. Now that may not sound like much, but it made me feel like I’m getting jipped. You can’t honestly tell me that it costs an extra $1 to add chocolate. I don’t know. Maybe I’m overreacting. But every dollar adds up over time!

This will not be a restock for me, and I think I may just pour out what’s left in the box. Since it’s premixed in liquid form, I can’t pass it along to someone who might enjoy it better. And that makes me sad. :(


I’ve never bought any chai mixes before, let alone theirs, but now you have left me curious. I always imagine them to be super sweet. Do you find the regular one to be so?


It does have added sugar, but I don’t find it to be too sweet. It’s so spicy that the spice balances out the sugar, especially when you add milk. Try ordering the chai tea latte from Starbucks first. If you like it, then you know you’ll like the concentrate mix, which is a MUCH better value for your money.

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drank Pure Leaf Sweet Tea by Lipton
636 tasting notes

I bought a bottle of this at work when I was really in need of tea. Now, I love adding sweetener to black tea. I have a huge sweet tooth! But this tea was waaaaaaay too sugary for me. I swear I could feel my teeth rotting out of my skull. I honestly thought about adding some water to dilute it.

One bottle has 160 calories and 42 grams of sugar. Umm, does anyone else see the problem with this? And to think they also make an “Extra Sweet” version with 250 calories and a whopping 65 grams of sugar!!! Ack! Never again.


Once was definitely enough

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Entering the sweet blissful world of tea aromas!

Having discovered this website at the end of July 2011, I’m so excited to share my tea adventures with all of you! I grew up with my grandmother serving Twining’s English Breakfast with cream and sugar.

But on a trip to Seattle in 2010, I stumbled into a Chinese teashop and tried my first oolong tea. I was forever changed! I embarked on a startling new love for green and white teas.

With a world of teas to discover, I was inspired to keep a tea journal to record my thoughts and new favorites. Let’s get brewing!

My ratings are completely subjective and 100% my opinion. All ratings are given in relation to each other (ie. teas are rated in the order of my enjoyment of them). Therefore, my ratings will constantly change as I try more teas.

I love swapping!!! If you see something in my cupboard you’d like to try, just send me a message. If you’d like to trade, anything on my shopping list will do or feel free to send something else entirely. I’m willing to try almost anything (although I’m not really a fan of honeybush, red rooibos, pu’erh, Lapsang Souchong, & banana-flavored teas).


Maryland, USA

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