635 Tasting Notes

drank Gingerbread Cookie by DAVIDsTEA
635 tasting notes

The dry leaf aroma smells like red rooibos. The brewed tea aroma smells about the same. The flavor? Sweet rooibos. Where the ginger? Where’s the mate? Where’s the cookie? This is disappointing. Maybe I shouldn’t have followed the brewing instructions, which call for 185°F water. I’ve got to say that surprised me. I expected it to be boiling.

There’s a bit of maple in here. No pineapple, currants, or white chocolate even though the ingredients list says those are in here. I don’t know what kind of gingerbread cookies DAVIDsTEA staff are used to eating, but you wouldn’t find any of those ingredients in MY gingerbread cookies. And why did DAVIDsTEA label this as a mate tea when it’s mostly rooibos? This whole tea confounds me. It’s not bad it’s just nothing like what it’s advertised to be. If you like sweet rooibos teas, then you’ll like this. For myself, I’m glad I only got a free sample and not more.

Flavors: Maple, Rooibos, Sweet

185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Uggh I suspected this tea would be a disappointment. It should have been a black!


Regarding the labeling- it’s like their “detox tea”- its mostly rooibos but has green tea and is therefore marketed as a green.

Your tasting note of this tea summed up how I felt about last years gingerbread tea (or was it 2 years ago?)…


I had high hopes because the picture of the leaves looked like there was lots of ginger in it. So at the very least, I expected a spicy ginger tea. No ginger. No cookie. Boo!

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Yay! Tea #2 from my Li Xiangxi Special Sample Pack! The dry leaf aroma is strong and kind of smells like a roasted Tie Guan Yin. I opted not to do a rinse. The first steep was for 3 seconds. It smells bizarre and slightly rancid, like sweaty underarms. The initial flavor is a bit like dirty, sweaty socks but the aftertaste is okay and more tea-like. It tastes strongly of passion fruit.

The second steep for 5 seconds was much improved. Do yourself a favor and rinse this tea!! The brewed tea aroma is no longer rancid sweat and the flavor is pure delicious tea. It’s much more enjoyable now. This has very strong floral and fruit notes. I swear it tastes exactly like a cross between honeysuckle and passion fruit. The flavor is so strong and thick that it almost tastes like I’m drinking pollen. A fruity pollen.

Wow, I really don’t think I’ve ever had such a fruity, floral unflavored tea. This is quite remarkable. Verdant’s notes say this is orchid, honey, melon, and aloeswood incense. I’m not getting much in the way of honey or sweetness. Orchid? Maybe. Yeah, I could see orchid. But to me, it is screaming honeysuckle pollen and passion fruit.

Third steep for 10 seconds. Okay, now I’m tasting honey. I can see the melon note as well, although I still prefer to define it as passion fruit. I don’t know what aloeswood incense is, but I would say this tea has very little spice to it. I’m also getting a bit more of the dark, woodsy, rocky minerality that I would expect from this type of oolong. But overall, there is not much minerality to speak of.

Fourth infusion for 15 seconds is just as delicious. The tea liquor is slowly darkening but still pretty light. It looks like liquid rose gold. :)

Next I had a small cup of 200 degree water. I read on Verdant’s site to drink plain hot water after every few infusions to clear your palate. I’m honestly surprised how much this plain water tastes like tea! As the water touches my palate, it seems to reawaken the aftertaste of the tea! It’s really a remarkable and fascinating thing to experience.

Fifth infusion for 20 seconds. The tea’s losing its bite, its punch. Still good but not quite as flavorful as the first few cups. It seems to build on my tongue though and the aftertaste lingers for a long time.

Sixth infusion for 30 seconds. The tea liquor is getting lighter again. There’s a bit more rocky minerality to it followed quickly by floral and fruity notes at the end of the sip. I’m starting to understand why this tea is so expensive. Special Grade? Yes, it is truly special indeed.

I really had a terrible day. One of the worst days I’ve had in a long time. The kind of day that makes you wonder why life is worth living. What’s the point of it all? What’s the point of living if you’re just in pain and causing pain to those around you? Am I supposed to just soldier through and pray that one day the pain will disappear? Am I supposed to hope that I’ll wake up one day and miraculously be whole again? What’s the point of living if I’m going to be broken forever? Life isn’t all bad. I have many things to be grateful for. But when there’s something physically broken about you that impacts your very identity as a woman, it’s really hard to see past that to the good things in life. You can try to ignore it but you can’t keep that up for long. This tea magically transported me out of that dark mindset, at least for a few minutes.

Seventh infusion for 50 seconds. Still good but definitely losing flavor. I think I’ll try a couple long steeps and then call it quits. Sorry that I took this note to a dark place at the end. I’m just devastated and I need an outlet. But back to the tea, this is truly special and definitely worth your time (and money) to pick up a sample. At $29/ounce, I don’t think I can afford a large quantity of this. But I am very glad that I was able to get a great deal on the Li Xiangxi Special Sample Pack so that I could try this tea. It’s an experience worth having.

Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Honey, Honeysuckle, Orchid, Passion Fruits

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 5 OZ / 147 ML
Evol Ving Ness

Hmm, the above two comments were my efforts to post a heart.

Evol Ving Ness

I am sorry things are so hard.

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drank Santa's Secret by DAVIDsTEA
635 tasting notes

This is an old sample from Shmiracles. Thank you! Why I haven’t tried it till now, I couldn’t tell you. Samples have a way of getting lost in my cupboard after a few months.

The brewed tea aroma is peppermint, sugar, and cream. Despite its age, this tea is deliciously minty! Wow, this is really incredible! It’s got a great balance of mint and vanilla. Add vanilla and cream flavors to just about anything and I’m sold! This is no exception. Plus, it’s got those cute little candy canes. :)

Mmm mmm! I am really enjoying this. I know it’s late to be drinking black tea, but this is hitting the spot. There’s a bit of an odd aftertaste that’s not too great, but the main flavor is so delicious that I think I’m going to pick up some more this holiday season!

Flavors: Cream, Peppermint, Vanilla

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Old Tree Shui Xian by Verdant Tea
635 tasting notes

My Li Xiangxi Special Sample Pack finally arrived! I paid $35 and waited about 5 weeks, so this better be worth it! The dry leaf aroma is rocky and mineraly. The brewed tea aroma is similar but saltier and more developed.

The flavor is really special! It’s rocky and mineraly with notes of honey and butterscotch sweetness. It definitely has lots of spice notes. I love spicy notes in teas. They’re probably my favorite. I also feel like there’s a blood orange note in the aftertaste. Looking at Verdant’s description of this tea, I’m spot on! That’s exciting. :)

This is a truly lovely rock oolong. The flavor is crisp and clean. There’s no bitterness or astringency. I know I say that for a lot of Verdant teas and that’s true for them all. But this one has a cleanness to it that is unique. You definitely know you’re drinking the best of the best. The aftertaste lingers long after the sip, like several minutes later kind of long.

This is a tea that should be savored and appreciated early in the morning when all is quiet. I suggest enjoying it gongfu style because it benefits from lots of infusions. I found myself quickly making the steeps longer though. I pretty much doubled the infusions each time till I was up to a couple minutes. Honestly, this is the best rock oolong I’ve ever tasted. I highly recommend it.

Flavors: Blood orange, Butterscotch, Honey, Mineral

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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The dry leaf aroma is sweet and floral. It’s also almost fruity. The brewed tea aroma is a floral green oolong. This is my kind of tea!

I got this sample from a co-worker/friend. I have no idea what company this is from as the red, vacuum sealed package is only covered in kanji. I tried translating 茗典茶藏 and determined it says: “tea for ceremony, tea to have.” Anyone come across this before?

The leaves fully unfurled after the second infusion for two minutes. It’s a shame I can’t identify the source because this is a great tea! The leaves have more stem attached then I’ve ever seen before, but the resulting tea is delicious! It’s probably an unflavored milk oolong. This second infusion is creamy! Mmm, yum! This is soooo good! It’s really hitting the spot. I’d rate it a 92.

Boiling 1 min, 0 sec

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This is completely unacceptable. Malnourished children are dying on tea farms in India! I absolutely love tea but I am absolutely appalled at the horrible living conditions of these tea workers in Assam. We need to demand better conditions and higher wages for these workers. Stop the child labor! I will no longer buy tea from the following companies: Twinings, Lipton, Tetleys, Yorkshire Tea, Harrods, Fortnum and Mason, Doomur Dullung, and PG Tips.



Thank you so much for posting this.

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The dry leaves have virtually no aroma. That’s interesting for a roasted tea. I’d expect there to be a nice roasty toasty aroma dry or wet. Wow, the brewed tea aroma is so unexpected! Again, I expected something roasted like houjicha. But instead I was greeted by a baked squash aroma! It really smells like freshly roasted vegetables. It smells like food! Not tea! Pumpkin. Yes, this tastes like baked pumpkin. There’s a tiny bit of saltiness too that reminds me of toasted pumpkin seeds.

The flavor deepens in the next infusions. It’s rich and malty, full-bodied with a round mouthfeel. I’m definitely getting the chocolate notes now and they’re only getting stronger. I brewed this in my gaiwan and didn’t strain the leaves with a strainer. I just used the gaiwan lid to keep the majority of the leaves out of the cups. I read somewhere on Verdant’s blog that not using an additional strainer can change the mouthfeel of the tea. So I decided to give it a try. Little bits of leaves do end up in each cup, but it’s not bothering me. I wonder if the sediment and leaf bits are steeping the tea longer or if they’re too small to make much of a difference.

This tea definitely benefits from lots of quick steeps. Infusing these leaves for even a few seconds too long can result in a bitter cup. I’m not very familiar with roasted oolongs, but this strikes me as more of a black tea than an oolong. Drinking this when it’s piping hot results in a very nice mouthfeel. It’s like that prickly sensation you feel when you first get into a hot car that’s been sitting in the sun for a few hours and the warmth of the air prickles as it rushes over your skin. I like the sensation and it lingers after the sip.

I think this is the first time I’ve detected a cherry note in a tea. This is really good! It reminds me of Laoshan Black. They’re quite similar teas. In fact, I wish I had some so I could do a side-by-side comparison. I think I like this more than Laoshan Black actually. This is truly chocolaty in a way that many unflavored teas claim to be but aren’t. I love this! Thank goodness I have one more sample. I’d be sad if this was my first and last cup. And let me say that these leaves go for a long, long time! I’m getting many more infusions than I usually do with any tea and they’re staying flavorful. After approximately 15+ infusions, I’ve lost count. These later cups are chocolate and caramel with a silky finish. I think the sandalwood is peaking out a bit more now too. Oooh, yes! This is my kind of tea!


Flavors: Butternut Squash, Caramel, Cherry, Chocolate, Malt, Pumpkin, Vegetables, Wood

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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I was in the mall doing some last minute birthday shopping for my husband when I stumbled upon a small tea and spice shop. I’ve never heard of them but I’m not one to pass up new teas. I perused their offerings and ended up buying an ounce of this tea and some chili coffee spice for my husband.

The dry leaf aroma is sweeter and more floral than the brewed tea aroma. They both smell amazing though! I first tried it sans additions and then I added a little bit of Truvia. Wow! This is AMAZING! It’s creamy and delicious! This tea is floral with the perfect amount of bergamot. Honestly, this has the best bergamot flavoring I’ve ever had in an Earl Grey. The base is quiet and takes a backseat to the flavorings. But it’s not at all bitter and doesn’t need milk like most Earl Greys I’ve tried.

This tea is so tasty! The cream flavoring really kicks it up a notch. It’s so yummy and has the perfect balance of flavors. The second infusion for five minutes is just as delicious as the first! I think I’ve found a new love. I am gonna’ burn through this ounce! Must have MORE!

Boiling 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Aw I’m sad to see they have only this one tea on Steepster!


I added it myself. Their website is pretty much empty too. I think they’re a fairly new business and only have this one brick and mortar store in MD.


Hmmm that’s too bad. Well it sounds promising anyhow :)

Chai (not Kai) Mera

This sounds excellent (and they offer free shipping). Sadly the website doesn’t have much in the way of descriptions, though. So if you try any of their other teas, please share reviews? :)


I definitely will!

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The dry leaf aroma sure smells like blackberries! Oddly enough, the brewed tea has no aroma whatsoever. Thank goodness that doesn’t translate into a flavorless tea! The sip is clean, hay-like white tea with a punch of vanilla and a subtle hint of blackberry. I’m definitely getting more cream than berry in the cup. This is good! It’s not big on flavor but all the expected notes are there. The berry comes out more as it cools. I will enjoy the rest of this one but I don’t think I’ll re-purchase it. I simply have too much tea!

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

I was going to try this tea tonight. Curious if I get the same flavors.


Let me know if you do!

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drank Eggnog Yunan by 52teas
635 tasting notes

Time for another 52teas oldie. I love a good Yunnan black tea so I couldn’t pass this up. The dry leaf aroma is cinnamon. The beginning of the sip is somewhat dark and woodsy like a high quality Yunnan. But unfortunately that fades rather quickly and I’m left with a slightly floral, marigold petal flavor. I don’t think I’ve ever had eggnog so I can’t identify similarities or differences.

Overall, this is much calmer and less flavorful than I was expecting. The cinnamon is quite light and doesn’t contribute much spiciness to the cup. There is a little bit of creaminess. There’s no bitterness and I don’t feel the need to add sweetener or milk. A small amount of astringency is apparent but nothing off-putting. That’s about it. Not a nuanced cuppa but nothing offensive going on either. It’s just rather boring.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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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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