580 Tasting Notes


1.5 tsp for 300mL water @100C, steeped four minutes, drunk bare.

An old favourite. With so many of DavidsTea’s offerings declining in quality - no more Keemun, the milk oolong now being milk-flavoured. the David’s Breakfast blend changing every few months - it’s good to find one basic blended tea that’s not not gone to pot. The Yunnan base is sweet and mellow enough to play with the lemon oil versus fighting with it, as a brisker Indian black tea might. Refreshing.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @100C, steeped three minutes.

Honey and cocoa notes, and a slight aroma of leather and earth. Really good.

Flavors: Cocoa, Earth, Honey, Leather, Mineral

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 300 ML

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1.5 tsp for 250mL water @85C, steeped four minutes, drunk bare. (I prefer many oolongs at 90C, but I followed the packet instructions)

I am greedy with oolong and steep it Western style. I don’t often rinse it, either.

So the only place left in my little city for tea is DavidsTea, and I notice both their tea quality seems to be going down over the last year. For example, they’ve gone to a flavoured oolong for their Quangzhou Oolong, adding milk flavour to oolong leaves instead of using the real thing (and you can totally tell), and heaping the artificial flavours into the Long Life Oolong (what once smelled f peaches now smells of apple cider vinegar, just NASTY). Their tieguanyin, or Tie Kwan Yin as they transliterate it, surely, I thought, must still be okay.

It is. Okay. An acceptable tieguanyin but nothing special.

“Oolong tea from Nantou, Taiwan,” reads the package, At least there’s no “natural” flavours added.

The tea clerk corrected my pronunciation of tieguanyin when I asked for some. Even if I was wrong, and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t, I’m not sure that saying “Oh, you mean the tye-kwaahn-yeen?” is the best way to handle the question.


Oh that’s just nasty. He obviously needs some sales training. Customer is always right!

Michelle Butler Hallett

Add to that I have to keep pointing out to the clerks there just where the straight teas are …

—May I have 50grams of [staight tea]?
—Uh I don’t think we carry that.
—Right there, between the Pineapple Mint Chocolate Mate-Oolong with Rooibos and the Lavender White Cocoa Shells with Cayenne Parrot Beak Green.

Michelle Butler Hallett

To be fair: Stash also surprise me sometimes with their inventive blends, and blends are great. I just find my local DavidsTea is not as strong on knowledge of straight teas as they could be.

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1 teabag for 300mL water @80C, steeped 3 minutes.

I’ve been a Stash customer since 1989, when I could buy little individual foil-wrapped teabags at various cafes on my university campus. I fell hard for Stash. The little colourful packets of Earl Grey (grey, of course), Jasmine Spice (purple),Darjeeling (light blue), Irish Breakfast (green) … far and away, the best tea I could get. When I discovered I could order Stash through the mail (looooong before the internet), I was ecstatic.

So I’m kindly inclined to Stash. Some of their blends I run from, screaming, but most of them work for me. Their Moroccan Mint does. Stash does mint well. When you open the packet, the spearmint is pungent and sharp, and the peppermint is refreshing. The green tea base is none too exciting, but the mints ad a touch of lemongrass lift it up. Delightful.

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1 sachet for 250mL water @85C, steeped six minutes, drunk bare.

I really enjoyed this blend. I got a minty note — the liquorice, maybe? — and some spices. it gave a decent mate kick, too. My office smelled great.

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Made in a gourd with 85C water, multiple infusions.

I’ve made Main Squeeze as a tisane in the past, using 1.5 tsp for 300mL water and steeping it. This morning, I found my gourd. The result: intense. The fruits give an agreeable bitterness, a bit like pith in marmalade, while the mate itself is earthy and sweet. Overall I think I’d prefer plain mate in a gourd, but this is good. And potent.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @85C, steeped 6 minutes.

Quite sweet, and quite potent. Sulfites might trigger headaches in anyone sensitive to them. I find guayusa very stimulating; I don’t drink it too often, and I want to have something saved for when I need an extra push. I’ve got nothing to object to in this fruit and guayusa blend.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @85C. steeped three minutes thirty seconds, drunk bare.

As is typical with a flavoured tea blend from DavidsTea, you’re hard-pressed to taste any actual tea. The liquor is a faint golden-green; I expect the green base tea is a fairly unexciting one.

The spice blend is, well, again, typical for DavidsTea: a bit bland, and somehow hollow. The leaf and spices look a bit like something from Stash, what with cloves and orange peel in it. I’m not sure what the “natural flavourings” are supposed to be, but the tea overall gives the faintest whiff of oranges, a little tingle from the cloves (I love cloves) and an even fainter tingle from chill peppers. Chili peppers? Where? Were they just waved over this blend?

I would not call this a spicy tea at all. It seems to be missing something — a strong heart, perhaps, either a more assertive and interesting tea base, or some more burn from what what can be decently hot spices.


Michelle Butler Hallett

Cinnamon chewing gum. Some spice burn builds, but it’s still hollow. After half a cup, I feel like I’ve been chewing stale Big Red.

Michelle Butler Hallett

And it gets sweeter and sweeter towards the bottom — I’d swear someone put syrup in this. (I didn’t — I don’t sweeten my teas.) Strange.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @85C, steeped four minutes thirty seconds.

Pine and plum notes for sure, though the pine is stronger. A note I dislike in tea: I don’t know if this is called ‘vegetal’ or what, but there’s a a taste and scene that reminds me of scallops. I’ve detected it in some green and white teas, and I don’t care for it — well, not in tea. Scallops on my plate is another matter. Some shea butter notes in the aftertaste.

Flavors: Bok Choy, Broth, Fish Broth, Mushrooms, Pine, Plums


Fish broth? ewww

Michelle Butler Hallett

Yeah. I’ve not tried to make a second cup. I don’t want scallops in my oolong. Add a pinch of salt to this tea and you’re halfway to soup. Not for me.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @100C, stepped four minutes forty-five seconds, drunk bare.

BAM! Smoky with other China tea notes — a tiny bit sweet — with a light to medium body: so gooooood. Caravan Resurrected has been tucked at the back of my tea cabinet for a while; time to let it party.

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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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