654 Tasting Notes

Happy pi day! I don’t have any pie-flavored teas right now, so I’m going for a pu instead. This one comes to me courtesy of Angel at TeaVivre. Thank you!

I’ve only had a handful of pu-erhs before. I didn’t like them much (too much dirt/leather/fishiness), so I’m entering this tasting with a bit of trepidation.

I am using one of my favorite pieces of teaware today: a gaiwan-teapot hybrid that I picked up in Taiwan for a comically low price. It is the size and shape of a gaiwan, but it also has a spout and handle. Aesthetically pleasing + easy to use = win. I used the whole sample packet, which filled a little less than half of the gaiwanpot. Per packet and website instructions, I used boiling water throughout.

The dry leaf smells ok. Earthy and slightly oaky. After a 5 second rinse, I steeped the leaf for 20 seconds. The brew is a light golden color. It has that earthy pu-erh scent with a hint of floral. The wet leaves smell awful – boggy, almost rotten. The flavor of the brew is savory, darkly bitter, and muddy. Not a very promising start.

The second steep was 30 seconds long. The golden color of the brew is more vibrant this time. The smell is earthy and vaguely floral again, but also peaty. The flavor is bitter bitter bitter and somewhere under there is still some muddiness.

I would normally add 10 seconds for the next steep, but the second steep was so bitter that I don’t want to risk overdoing it. So the third steep was 30 seconds long. The brew looks and smells lovely, but the sharp bitterness is still here.

I did the fourth steep at 30 seconds again. This one came out slightly less bitter, with a tree-ish undercurrent.

I can’t do this anymore. No more steeps. This tea is clearly not for me. I won’t rate it because I have no idea whether this is objectively bad for a pu or just bad to me because I don’t generally enjoy pu-erh. I suppose it’s possible that I overleafed. I don’t think so though. After four steeps, the leaf only fills about ⅔ of the gaiwanpot. I’ve successfully brewed oolongs and blacks that nearly overflow the pot after enough steeps. Alas, the search for a pleasing pu marches on.

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Thanks again to Nepali Tea Traders for the sample! I know sachets are problematic, but I quite like them for the convenience without sacrificing the pleasure of loose leaf. This is so yums. The brew is a medium orange. It’s sweet and malty. The cinnamon was actually more prominent when I made this in a travel mug versus the regular mug I’m using now. The spice here is more abstractly warming than dominantly flavorful. I got a solid second steep out of this bag. A level tablespoon of manuka honey added some sweetness but wasn’t really necessary. I wouldn’t recommend this iced though. It just… doesn’t work.

Overall, I’m not running to buy more right this second but would definitely consider buying this in the future. Sipdown!

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One of the rewards I received when I backed an SBT Kickstarter was a Strawberry Watermelon black iced tea. Somehow I can’t find it in the Steepster database or on the 52teas/SBT/Zoomdweebie’s website. I swear it exists though. Well, existED, since this is a sipdown.

My partner wanted a sweet iced tea, so I decided to make this. It’s the first time I’ve used an SBT exactly as instructed. Normally I break open the teabag and use the leaf to hot-brew smaller servings rather than an entire pint of tea. We did use a few tablespoons of honey instead of sugar. I found this blend overly artificial and sweet, tasting just like a strawberry-watermelon hard candy. My partner, by contrast, couldn’t make out any flavors at all, even after adding milk (and then whipped cream) in an effort to amplify the taste. That concoction actually ended up tasting like a tolerable strawberry-watermelon milkshake to me but it was way too much dairy and the artificialness was cloying, lingering forever after the sip. I found this blend tasted best as a heavily diluted teapop. The watermelon flavor hit first and complemented the fizziness, while the strawberry flavor lingered long after. Even as a teapop, though, the artificial candiness was too much for me. I didn’t bother resteeping.

Flavors: Artificial, Candy

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Thanks to Angel at TeaVivre for the sample! I used approx. 4 grams for 2 oz of water in my little glass gong fu teapot. After a 4 second rinse, I got a solid 9 steeps out of this leaf.

1st steep, 5s – This is a vibrant orange brew. It’s sweeter than I expected; there’s definitely a strong honey note. It’s also bready with a moderately thick mouthfeel. The wet leaf is shades of medium brown and dark green, long and thin, reminding me of vanilla pods in appearance but smaller.

2nd steep, 5 s- The brew is a darker orange, with a richer flavor than the first steep. It smells like dark bread. The flavor is more mushroomy, slightly reminisicent of Butiki’s Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black.

3rd steep, 8 s – This steep has the same dark orange color and robust flavor as the second.

4th steep, 5 s – The color is the same, but this steep is brisker and less savory than the previous steeps.

5th steep, 10 s – The savoriness is back! Definitely mushroomy.

6th steep , 15 s – The brew is ever so slightly paler. The mushroominess is still present but has mellowed out.

7th steep, 20 s – This steep is mellower than the last and more bready than mushroomy.

8th steep, 30 s – This steep is lighter in both color and flavor. This leaf is nearing its steepable end.

I neglected the 9th steep and allowed it to cool. This is actually fantastic cold. Very refreshing! I’ll have to try it cold brewed at some point.


Oh, I’m sure cold brewing these types of straight black teas would be fabulous!

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drank Root Beer Barrels by Butiki Teas
654 tasting notes

I stole VariaTEAS ‘s idea of making this as a latte. I used rice milk. It was good, but I think I prefer it plain. The added creaminess and sweetness is a bit much. I don’t really like root beer floats, so it’s not surprising that I am not excited by a root beer tea latte. Thanks to rosebudmelissa for sending me some of this! I still have enough leaf left for two plain cups so I am happy.

Flavors: Candy, Root Beer

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drank Christmas Tea by Alice's Tea Cup
654 tasting notes

This cranberry-heavy blend seems like more of a fall tea than a wintry one. There are strong notes of citrus, clove, and cinnamon, but the cranberry fruitiness reminds me of Thanksgiving food. Iced, this tea tastes like cold spiced apple cider, only with cranberry instead of apple. It’s sweet, spicy, and juicy. I got two solid steeps out of the leaf. Sipdown!

Flavors: Cinnamon, Citrus, Clove, Cranberry

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Thank you to Nepali Tea Traders for sending me a sample of this! I appreciate that the sample consists of two sachets, which gives me some room to play around. I used the first sachet in my travel mug for breakfast tea this morning.

I’m glad I checked out LiberTEAS ‘s note before trying this tea. I would have added rice milk before trying it and I think that would have been a mistake. This is a very gentle chai. Cinnamon is prominent here but not sharp. The base tea is malty but not heavy. I’m looking forward to trying this in a regular mug so I can experience it more fully.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Malt

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drank Rooibos Lemon by Lupicia
654 tasting notes

Well, it’s lemon. And it’s rooibos. The lemon is more sweet than sharp – I think Inkling had it right when she compared the flavor to a lemon drop. This is a perfectly decent cup, but there’s no wow factor. Of all the teas in my happy bag that I’ve tried so far, this is my least favorite. Also, sipdown!

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drank Pistachio Ice Cream by Butiki Teas
654 tasting notes

My partner just brought me a bunch of pistachios from Taiwan. They’re very sweet. We can’t tell if they are naturally sweet or actually sweetened – they came from a bin simply labeled “pistachio” in Chinese. There does not appear to be any sugar on them, for what that’s worth. They taste just like this tea though. Sweet, nutty, creamy pistachio goodness. Totally addictive. I’m so sad that this marks a Butiki sipdown. This was one of my favorite teas.

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Um. What? Why does this have such a weirdly thick mouthfeel? Is this their attempt at creaminess? Something’s not quite right here. I’m definitely getting chamomile and smooth vanilla, but the honey flavoring tastes really fake and seriously what is up with this texture? Apologies to anyone I sent this to in a swap – I had not tried it yet and it looked promising. This is drinkable but… weird to me.

EDIT: Ost described this as tasting like Vaseline and I think that’s exactly right. The texture is weirdly Vaseline-esque as well.

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