620 Tasting Notes


1.25 tsp for 330mL water @90C, steeped Western style 3 minutes — because sometimes I;m greedy with oolong. First infusion.

GAWD, this is good! I adore tieguanyins, and once again, Master Zhang shows us how it’s done. This is beautifully floral, of course, but there’s also lots of fruit notes — like dragonfruit and lychee and peach — and a tingle almost, which is very refreshing but could become a bit soapy if steeped too long. Lesson learned: I’ll make this gong fu next time. It’s deeper than a spring tieguanyin. Crisp mineral notes. Fruit and flowers dominate. Just gorgeous.

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4.5 tsp for 1L water @85C, steeped 3 minutes.

Dry leaf: lots of big, unfurled leaves, light and dark green, plus bits of dried fruit and some red and white blossoms (pomegranate and sunflower). Strong scent of papaya that sort of resembles peach. Sort of.

Wet leaf: dark green, slightly less-scented.

Liquor: bronze. Dark for a white tea.

So the dried fruit is mango, papaya, and pineapple coated in sugar and citric acid. There’s also “natural flavours.” Don’t be frightened off — this one works. The scent is a bit strong on the first steep and may lessen on a second. Lots of peach-like taste, though I can tell it’s not peaches. Decent white-tea taste as well, with lots of tea oils released into the water. Very nice mouth-feel.

While this is not a tea I’d want every day, it does deliver a peachy aroma and taste, and the flavouring does not overpower the white tea.

I’ve had this tea before and steeped it too long then. Treat this one delicately, no warmer than 85C on the water and a short steep, and you should get a pleasantly peachy white tea. With hotter water or a long steep time, this blend can get bitter fast.

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1 sachet for 275mL water @100C, steeped 5 minutes, evaporated milk added.

A decent ‘breakfast’ blend, though not worth the premium price charged. Stands up reasonably well to a teaspoon of thick and creamy evaporated milk … but could be stronger. It does have an unexpected and most welcome floral-bread scent. If I had to guess, I’d say this blend is Nilgiri-heavy, with some heft but no depth and very little maltiness.


I’ve never tried evaporated milk in my tea, but now I think I need to!

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2.5 tsp for 400mL water @90C, steeped four minutes Western-style.

First, I have too much leaf here. Second, the water temp is too damn hot. I’ve got scalded and bitter tea here. Bleah.

Still, I can taste a ghost of the lovely sample I tried at a DavidsTea yesterday, which was between a quangzhou milk and a tieguanyin. The DT staff tell me it stands up to multiple steeps and gets more floral with each re-steep.

Okay, as it cools, it’s improving. Definitely gonna use water at 85C next time. Can’t wait to try it gongfu.

This is a pricy tea almost $16 for 50 grams, but I think it’s well worth trying if you’re a fan of milky and floral oolongs.

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1.25 tsp for 250mL: water @95C, steeped 4 minutes.

UPDATE: I couldn’t finish drinking this tea. It’s like drinking heartburn.

Dry leaf: dark greenish black with many visible chunks of ginger and cardamon. Sneeze-worthy spicy scent.

Wet leaf: very little tea. Mostly chunks of spice and cocoa shells.

Liquor: cloudy brown. Most unappealing.

Aroma: assertive ginger, cinnamon , and caradmom. Everyone in my office wants to know what I’m drinking.

Flavour: well now! That’s some hot ginger and cinnamon. I quite like it. Very subtle earthiness in the finish from the pu ehr. Thin-bodied tea, not much heft or mouthfeel, We’ll see later what effect the guarana has.

I loved the old Chai Guarana, made with a black tea base. It was one of DavidTea’s more interesting blends. Like most of my DT favourites, it’s long since been been continued. (Oh, what I wouldn’t give for Super Chocolate to come back!) In fact. DavidsTea’s deplorable habit of offering a truly interesting tea or tisane and then withdrawing it is one of the reasons I hardly ever shop there anymore.

This blend’s decent for a spice hit, If you don’t mind not getting much actual tea, this should work for you.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Update: I can’t finish it. It’s triggering heartburn and frankly feels like heartburn when I swallow it.

Kiki tea

oh. ugh.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Yep. It’s a disaster. My stomach is still burning. Way too much ginger and cassia oil.

Which bring me to a frequent complaint I have about DT blends: WHERE’S THE TEA?


@michelle….and that’s why I don’t bother with DT anymore.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Right? When I first became a DT customer about 10 years ago, ordering online because my city didn’t have a store, I was so excited. And they offered a decent range of straight teas,And the blends I tried had plenty of tea in them.

Now it seems DT is much more about blends, and blends that are full of bits of dehydrated food, very little tea.

Kiki tea

when they started, i had such hope. then they served me tea to stay in a cardboard cup and added milk to the tea without letting it steep. sigh. i call them the soda pop of teas.

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1.5 tsp for 350 mL water @95C, steeped 5 minutes 30 seconds.

Nice! Sharp and sweet cinnamon and non-woody rooibos. Simple and good.

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1.5 tsp for 350mL water @100C, steeped four minutes fifteen seconds.

Dry leaf is very pretty, with colourful cake sprinkles against bright red rooibos. Wet leaf looks a bit sludgy with partly melted sprinkles. Liquor is cloudy dark red. No woody taste, just roobios and honeybush with a tiny bit of green rooibos, plus vanilla and maple-ish flavours. Better than I expected. A lovely sipping tisane. A longer steep might make it even better,.

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2TB crushed herbs (leaves, blossoms, roseships) for 250mL water at 100C, steeped 15 minutes.

After a day more productive than I’ve had in months, both for fiction, cooking, and general stamina as I bounce back form a medical setback. I’m tired. The GOOD tired that comes from working hard, versus the sickly tired that comes with chronic illness. So now it’s time for a gorgeous tisane and some meditative sipping.

Blue Heart Gardens is a local business, run by a woman who’s a farmer, a forager, a gardener, and a poet. See? She’s all about vitality and life. The herbs for her tisanes are sustainably wild-foraged and organically grown.

Ya know, it’s really hard to wait out the 15-minute steep time. I can’t wait to try this one.

Dry leaf: subtle mint, chamomile, some faint florals from the rosehips. A very pretty melange of bright green leaves, tiny white elderflowrs (I adore elderflower, especially as a flavouring in tonic water), creamy chamomie blossoms, and dark red roseships.

Wet leaf: slightly duller green, with much bigger chamomile and roseship pieces as they absorb water. Aroma: faint and resinous mint with a slightly bitter edge — most agreeable — and lots of bright chamomile.

Liquor: light brass, slightly cloudy.

Oh wow, this is like drinking medicinal sunshine. Some mineral notes, lots of chamomile and elderflower, and a slight bitterness from leaf resin and possibly the rosehip. Gentle minty finish, but not at all assertively minty. A mediative tisane. I don;t think I;ve drunk anything else quite like this.

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2TB crushed herbs (petals and leaves) to 250mL water at 100C, steeped 20 minutes.

Yes, that steep time is correct, and the vendor promises a second steep with different flavour notes.

Dry leaf: exceptionally pretty with lots of bright, bright green from the blackcurrant leaf, pink rose petals, blue cornflower petals, twists of dark and light green form the fireweed, and tiny white elderflowers. Aroma: very resinous, which I think is the fireweed, an ingredient I’m not familiar with.

Wet leaf: still very bright green, much the same aroma with perhaps that resinous, leafy scent a bit stronger.

Liquor: dark gold, clear.

Flavour: gently herbaceous and subtly sweet. I’m having trouble coming up with a comparison. Maybe a bit like green yerba mate, only much softer? Medium-to-heavy mouthfeel, which I expect is some resin from the leaves. The slightest bit lemony in aroma. Very soothing to drink.

I’d not heard of Ivan Chai til today. Fermented fireweed tisane is used as a medicine tisane and tonic in Russia. The name ‘Ivan Chai’ comes from the West. Fireweed is also called rose-pink willow herb, or just willow herb.

It’s really good.

Michelle Butler Hallett

As the tisane cools, I can taste the rose petals, too. Very subtle. Blends well with the fireweed.


Great to hear you are enjoying Blue Heart Gardens Ivan Chai! thanks for the review!

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I prefer straight teas but will try almost anything … so long as it’s not tainted with hibiscus. I loathe hibiscus.

Floral oolong and complex black teas are my favourites.


St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

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