635 Tasting Notes


The first time I tried this tea, I was a little harsh on it. I wasn’t in a particularly good mood because my fiancé was cooking habanero peppers and poisoned all the air in the apartment. I sequestered myself in my bedroom where the air was marginally more breathable. But I don’t think I was in the proper mindset to fully appreciate the #1 highest rated tea on Steepster.

So, after reading an enthralling review by jason I decided to give this tea another chance. The dry leaves are very small and very dark with a few sporadic golden tips. The dry leaf aroma is scrumptious. It’s like smelling fresh, warm baked bread hot from the oven.

I started with the same steeping parameters as the first go around. The resultant brew was light and yummy sans additions. I wish I had the words to adequately describe its taste. But I’m afraid I’m still a fairly inexperienced tea taster when it comes to high quality Chinese blacks. All I can think of is that it reminds me of a grainy, seed-riddled loaf of bread in liquid form.

The second steep was at 185 degrees for 4 minutes. Hmm, honestly there’s not a whole lot of difference between this infusion and the first. I’m going for a third steep! Less water this time and 6 minutes. It’s still not earth shattering. It’s good, but I guess I’m just not enraptured by Fujian teas the way others are. It doesn’t have a memorable flavor to me. The first infusion is definitely the best.

The thing I like most about this tea is that it’s not even the slightest bit bitter. Normally, I have to add milk and sugar to black teas to mask the tannic bitterness. But this is smooth and delightful on its own, and I can’t bring myself to mar its beauty with additions. A slight astringency only peeks out at the tail end of the third infusion. But it’s not an unpleasant level of astringency.

Funny, I stopped writing my note to read some other reviews and see what exactly everyone loves about this tea. So many other people described it as grainy! I’m impressed with my taste buds. Maybe they are more developed than I thought they were. Pretty cool if I do say so myself. It does have some caramel and cocoa-esque notes, but those aren’t entirely prominent in my opinion. I also wouldn’t consider this malty or beer-like at all. Grainy, yes. Malty, no.

Hey, we can’t all adore the same things or the world would be a pretty boring place. Nonetheless, I’m raising the rating from 75 to 79.

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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drank Green Apple Tea by Ovation Teas
635 tasting notes

The dry leaf smells really interesting! It’s not what I expected, but it’s surprising in a good way. At first sniff, the pomegranate, juniper, and lemongrass combine to create something that does smell very much like a granny smith apple, oddly enough. I wouldn’t think that’d be the case, but it is.

The rose and marigold add a nice floral element. This tea just has so much going on! I don’t think I thoroughly read the ingredients before I bought it. Or if I did, I just don’t remember there being so many ingredients.

Again, the brewed tea aroma smells surprisingly like apple! I know, I shouldn’t be surprised. But so far, I’m just really impressed by how accurate the aroma is. Apple is hard to pull off in tea form. It’s one of those flavors that usually gets suppressed or concealed entirely. I’m hopeful that won’t be the case here.

Now the taste! Oh, wow, the taste!! This is fantastic! It’s a little flaky hot. I think it’d be better iced. But it’s still very enjoyable and a pleasant way to spend the evening. The flavors are fairly muted compared to the dry leaf aroma. But I’ve come to expect that in Ovation Teas after the Green Tea Fruit Smoothie experience. The subtler fruit flavors do allow the green tea base to shine, which it truly does here.

Well, this ends my new Ovation tea notes. I’ve tried everything from my last order. The Cherry Joy Black Tea was my favorite by faaaar. I highly recommend Ovation to people new to or hesitant with green teas. They’re not vegetal or grassy at all. It’s just pleasantness in a cup! :)

185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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drank Caramel by ESP Emporium
635 tasting notes

1/5 ESP Emporium Teas

This is my first ESP Emporium tea! I just got my shipment yesterday, and I can’t wait to try these! The packaging was very nice and minimalist. I’m not sure how airtight it is because the bags don’t have a ziplock. You just fold them over and secure with a bendy thing, similar to a Starbucks coffee bag just a whole lot smaller.

I chose Caramel this morning because I wanted something sweet. The dry leaves smell like caramel and black tea, so we’re off to a good start. But I couldn’t really find any caramel pieces. The picture on the site makes them seem abundant. I fished around for a while and eventually found one. Hopefully they all just fell to the bottom of the bag or something, and I’ll find more later.

Anyway, I followed the steeping instructions on the bag, even though I don’t usually steep black teas for 4 minutes right out of the gate. The resultant brew is dark and yummy smelling! Oddly enough, the aroma is nearly identical to 52teas’ Buttered Popcorn…really strange.

I think it’s finally cool enough to try. First sip is sans additions. Okay, the flavor is definitely not buttered popcorn, phew! I’m not really getting caramel though either. Oh wait! There it is! It doesn’t appear until the aftertaste. Hmmm, it’s definitely not very strong for a tea that’s supposed to only have caramel flavoring. I expected to drown in sticky caramel sauce. Time to add some sweetener and skim milk to see what happens.

Just as I suspected, the caramel flavor is more pronounced with additions. It is quite yummy. I’m not floored by taste, but it’s enjoyable. It’s just so funny how much this reminds me of Buttered Popcorn. Except now with additions, it tastes like caramel popcorn. That’s really unexpected, but I’m kind of liking it. Maybe it’s the same black tea base or something? I dunno.

If you’re looking for a knock-your-socks-off caramel tea, this probably isn’t it. But am I glad I got it? Yes, siree! Bring on the caramel popcorn!

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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I totally caved to peer pressure. After all the rave reviews, I just had to buy a pouch of this tea!

The dry leaf aroma is pure berry! Blackberry, raspberry, and yes, even strawberry is detectible in the aroma. The brewed tea aroma is nearly identical, which is very cool! So far, so good.

First taste…hmmm, the white tea actually isn’t overpowered by berry. And the berry is still very present too. The white base adds a slight nuttiness, while the berries are both sweet and tart. Blackberry is the most prominent of the berries in my opinion. This is an interesting blend of flavors and perfectly balanced. I’ve definitely never had another tea like it.

Second infusion was steeped at 180 degrees for 4 minutes. I know it’s a drastic change. Normally, I would only increase the steep time by 30 seconds with a white tea. But I really wanted to see if I could intensify the flavor. I was probably a little light on the leaf, but 1 ounce doesn’t go very far.

Mmmm, I like this better. It’s not a huge difference in intensity, but I can pick up on the difference. This second steep is definitely my favorite. It’s going to be interesting to see how many steeps it can hold up to before the berry disappears. Of course, I usually get full on tea before the flavor runs out. So, maybe I won’t find out the answer.

This is good, but when it comes to 52teas white tea blends, I have to say that I enjoy the Ginger Ale Bai Mu Dan better. Don’t get me wrong; I am enjoying this too! But at the steep price of 52teas’ Very Important Teas, I just can’t afford to restock it. That’s probably better for the Steepster tea community anyway. Gotta’ spread the love around, not horde it like a dragon! Oooh, now I’m totally picturing Smaug sitting on a pile of tea leaves and furious with Mr. Baggins for stealing his prized Darjeeling!

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec

Not sure if tea infused with the odor of dragon is worth all the trouble Mr. Baggins had to go through. haha


ROFL!!! Probably not, but then again an awful lot of people showed up to fight over it! ;)

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drank Cotton Candy Black Tea by 52teas
635 tasting notes

Mmm, the dry leaf smells exactly like cotton candy! At first I thought maybe it didn’t because it’s so floral. But then it really hit me! I’m hopeful the aroma will transfer into the taste.

The brewed tea maintains that sugary cotton candy scent, but the black tea is very present as well. Here we goooo!! Wow, surprising! It does kind of have that melt on your tongue texture like cotton candy. And it definitely has that pink cotton candy flavor, but it’s a little understated. I’m going to add some sugar to coax it out a bit.

Now it’s sugary, but it tastes like a regular sweetened black tea! I added a tiny splash of skim milk and presto! Cotton candy in a cup! It’s perfect!! Oh, this is really lovely. Really really enjoyable! No one but Frank could create a blend like this. It’s 100% original and 100% fabulous!

Also, major complements on the new black tea base! It’s not bitter or astringent in the least, and I like it much much more than its predecessor. It’s an ideal balance of flavors and holds up to re-steeps better too. The second infusion was almost identical to the first, and I’ve never experienced that with 52teas before!

This is definitely a newfound favorite. I never never do this, but I’m going to buy another pouch. I know I’m getting married and I’m supposed to be saving, but this is just too good to only have 1.75 ounces! Shhhh, just don’t tell the fiancé. ;) Look out, Steepsterites; buy this while you still can!!

Boiling 2 min, 30 sec

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drank Strawberry & Vanilla by Lupicia
635 tasting notes

This is Lupicia’s free sample of the month! Yay!! The dry leaf aroma is yummy! I can detect strawberry and green tea, but no vanilla scent. I can’t bring myself to follow the instructions and use boiling water, so I settled for 190 degrees. I’m also not sure about that “goes well with milk” description. I can’t imagine adding milk to green tea!

One and a half minutes later…it almost smells like baked goods. Yes, that’s it; it smells exactly like those vanilla bean scones from Starbucks, mmmm!! Wow, really really mouthwatering, fresh out of the oven, vanilla bean scones!

The taste is underwhelming, but that’s because the aroma is so magnificent that I want it to taste exactly how it smells. If I ignore how much I love the aroma, then it tastes pretty good. Maybe even great.

The vanilla blends very nicely with the green tea. The two flavors really complement each other. I think I may have to investigate other teas with this combo. As for the strawberry? Hmmm, I’m not sure I can detect it. If it’s there, it blends so well with the other flavors that I can’t isolate it.

Time for a second steep at 190 degrees for 2 minutes and 15 seconds. Yum, still very delicious. Even the third steep for 4 minutes is tasty! I’m raising the rating from 71 to 80.

AAHHHHHH!!!!!!! And this was my 200th tasting note!!!!!

190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 30 sec

Congrats on 200 tasting notes!


Congrats on 200!


Wow… 200th!!! Congrats!


Thanks all! A couple years ago, I never would have thought I’d try this many teas! :)


This actually sounds like a good tea.


It is a good tea! This is one of Lupicia’s best sellers. The first time I tried it, I wasn’t floored. But this was a different experience. It’s probably even better in loose leaf.

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Ugh, I haven’t been able to login in days! Every time I’ve tried, Steepster has failed to load. When I checked Down For Everyone Or Just Me, it always said it wasn’t just me. So, I’ve been logging my teas in a Word document, and now I have tons to post!

I didn’t rate this the first time I tried it because it was a bit of a disappointment. I had high expectations and then didn’t prepare it correctly. That always sucks. But the dry leaf aroma is even more intoxicatingly fruity than I remember! The tea has sat for a while, so hopefully the flavors will be more developed. I added a bit more leaf than last time too.

The brewed tea aroma is still strong, though not quite as strong as the dry leaf. And the moment of truth…yes! The flavor is definitely better. Much more fruity, but the green tea is still holding its own too.

Oh, sweet relief! I was so worried about this tea, but it’s turned out quite all right. First to hit my taste buds is definitely pineapple, followed by mango, strawberry, and then a sweet green tea aftertaste. This is a lovely tea! If you decide to buy it, definitely wait a few weeks for the flavors to develop and be generous with the leaf.

The only negative I have to say about it is the more I drink it, the thirstier I get! My mouth feels parched, and I really want to drink a giant glass of ice water. Second steep for 6 minutes was still good, but now I’m really parched! Maybe it would be better as an iced tea…hmm, I’ll have to experiment.

185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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drank Strawberry Zabaglione by 52teas
635 tasting notes

The connectivity issues I was having with Steepster last night are persisting today. All I want is to drink good tea and blog about it! Is that too much to ask for?

I’ve been drinking this tea a lot lately and not because I like it, but because I’m trying to figure it out. I’ve tried different leaf amounts, different steep times, different additions or sans additions. I just can’t decide if I like it or not.

Without additions, it’s a bit tannic. But with additions, it’s just weird. Maybe the problem is that I don’t like zabaglione? I don’t know. I keep going back and forth. Honestly, I think sugar ruins it. Since I’m a cream and sugar kind of girl, I find that odd. Perhaps the custard flavoring is too strong for my tastes. I LOVE strawberries and fresh whipped cream! But strawberries and custard? Hmmm…I can’t make up my mind.

I think I am learning to like this, but I’m not at love. It’s best with just a splash of skim milk, no sugar, and steeped for 2.5 minutes in roughly 8 oz. of water with 2 tsp of leaves. You really have to be careful with this one not to oversteep it because it turns very bitter. Since I’m finding it more drinkable now and am finally able to enjoy it, I’m raising the rating from 67 to 75.

Boiling 2 min, 30 sec

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Steepster has been giving me a really hard time tonight. It’s up, it’s down, it’s up, it’s down. Ugh. But it looks like it’s finally working again. After an underwhelming first experience, I decided to give this tea another shot. So, I bought a 2 oz. package from Ovation and here we are!

The dry leaf aroma is very strongly citrus. Have you ever had Airborne, the orange-flavored vitamin C supplement you drop in a glass of water? That’s what this smells like. It’s heavy on the orange and tangerine with something else detectable, but not discernible, underneath. I really hope the jasmine pops through once it’s steeped.

Following the recommended steeping parameters on the package, I brewed this for 4 minutes at 185 degrees. I did use a little more than 2 tsp because of my Green Tea Fruit Smoothie experience. That tea has an intoxicating dry aroma but brews up very subtle tasting. I had a feeling this might act the same. Ah yes, I can tell freshness is paramount with this tea because the brewed aroma is awesome! There’s that jasmine I was missing earlier!

The flavor is, again, mostly citrus. The jasmine comes out in the aftertaste. It seems to me like the jasmine is taking a backseat to the citrus, and I wish it were the other way around. I’ve never ever ever ever had the urge to add sugar to a green tea before. Well, I not only had the urge but I indulged it too! This really needed the extra bit of sweetness. The citrus was just too much for me.

Overall, this was much better than the first time I tried it. I raised the rating from 50 to 59. But it’s still not a favorite for my palate. Of course, you never know till you try! It’s good, but not great.

185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Phew, I am sore! I’ve been the exemplary sedentary American. I know I need to get more, or rather I should say any, exercise. My fiancé bought me the Zumba 2 Wii game for Christmas, and I finally broke it out yesterday. Holy crap! That game is WAAAAY harder than I anticipated! I couldn’t even finish a medium intensity full length class. I kept thinking, this has to be the last song, and then another one would play. Rinse and repeat. Ugh, I literally hurt in the weirdest places, like my lower back and love handles. Hopefully, that means I’ll lose fat from those areas, but it remains to be seen how effective of a workout it will be. I even have rug burn on my toes. :( Tip: Don’t dance barefoot on carpet for an hour. I also think it would be more fun as a live class. Still, there are some benefits to being alone in my apartment, such as no one has to witness my incredibly uncoordinated dance skills, or lack thereof.

Anyway, get on to the tea already! This is my first milk oolong experience, courtesy of Teavivre and their generous free samples!

The dry leaves smell really good! The aroma is like regular oolong but richer somehow and maybe a little darker. Woodsy definitely isn’t the correct description because that’s reserved for the dark Formosa oolongs. But there’s definitely an added component here than what’s in a regular green oolong.

I did a quick 1 minute steep. The tightly rolled balls unfurled into huge, whole leaves with long stems attached to the ends. The brewed tea aroma is luscious. This is definitely a green oolong but again, somehow richer and more distinctive than non-milk oolongs. It’s like the difference between milk chocolate and dark chocolate. This tea is definitely the dark chocolate.

I really want to drink it, but I know I’ll burn all the taste buds off my tongue if I do. A few patient minutes later and…Wow, from that build up of aroma I didn’t expect the taste to be so subtle. It’s definitely flavorful, but a lot of the flavor is in the aftertaste. It does have a certain creaminess to it, but I wouldn’t describe it as milky.

From experience, I know that the second or third steep is usually better than the first. So, I’m hopeful that the next cup will be better. That’s not to say this cup was bad, not by any means. It just wasn’t fully developed, akin to unripened fruit.

Second steep for 2 minutes and now the leaves have fully unfurled. Ah yes, and there’s a much more developed oolong flavor now too. It’s buttery and floral, but honestly I can’t tell that much difference between this and a Tie Guan Yin. Hmm, that second cup disappeared rather quickly…time to brew a third! I’ll try 3.5 minutes this time.

The flavor is still going strong. It’s a little less creamy but still enjoyable. I don’t have much to add so I think I’ll end the tasting note here. But I plan to keep steeping these leaves until there’s no flavor left or until my belly is sloshing with tea, whichever comes first. ;)

EDIT: I completely forgot about the fourth cup and let it steep for what must have been an hour or two. But it’s still delicious! No bitterness or astringency whatsoever. This is an amazing tea!

Boiling 1 min, 0 sec

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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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