11 Tasting Notes

drank Michelia Oolong by Eighty-Eightea
11 tasting notes

Light floral and beautiful oolong. Discovered during an hour-long tasting session at the Eighty-Eightea tea room in Taipei. The whole tasting experience there was pleasant with so many free samples that we shouldn’t have paid for a tea sit-down.

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drank Read My Lips by DAVIDsTEA
11 tasting notes

Maybe the tin yours truly (J) has is old. But this is the most foul-tasting tea I have ever experienced.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. Now I know that chocolate tea is a thing. Surprise! I didn’t add sugar. Should I? Milk?

I love chocolate. I have bars and bars around the house of Taza, my favorite brand. I still haven’t emotionally recovered from when a mouse (now named Bob) got into my stash and I had to trash pounds of otherwise delicious chocolate. I frequently drink hot cocoa in the winter, heating the milk with the Nespresso frother and throwing in some Swiss cocoa powder or the Starbucks mix. (It often gums up the works.)

So I should love this drink.

The aroma is somewhat chocolately, but the residue it leaves smells sickly sweet of chocolate.

The flavors just don’t seem to go together. Bummer.

Flavors: Chocolate, Peppermint, Sugar

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML

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At first yours truly (J) tortured these leaves through three boiling hot steepings (2tsp/16oz). Just pleasant… nothing special. But then…

For the fourth glass I wanted to make iced tea. So these same abused 2tsp steeped in just 1 oz of boiling water for 12 minutes, then poured over ice with some sugar.

It was magic! It is so much better iced – the sugar really makes the tropical flavors pop. After 4 steeps I was impressed any flavor survived. Now I’m getting these pineapple and banana flavors that were muted when hot. Yum!

Flavors: Pineapple

205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 2 tsp 1 OZ / 29 ML

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J+S both love a great deal as much as we love peach tea. So we picked up a bag of Tao of Tea Peach at TJ Maxx when it was on clearance.

After much research online this tea seems to be nonexistent. It wasn’t in the Steepster database, nor on the Tao of Tea website, nor Amazon, nor any other mentions online. The “Ginger Peach” from ToT is way more real, but there is no mention of ginger on our package.

So how does a mythical tea taste, you ask?

When yours truly (J) opened the package, I was hoping for a nasal punch of sweet dehydrated peach. But instead I smelled… wet tissues. Not a great start, but maybe the brewing will release the peach flavor.

4 minutes later (1 tsp / 8 oz), I was inhaling the steamy aroma. But it certainly didn’t smell like peach.

A sip once it cooled down: No complexity. No peach. Metallic aftertaste.

“What am I drinking?”

Perhaps the bag got wet on its journey to the clearance shelf, because this stuff is just awful. Or it could be stale. I’ll ask S to give it a try before the bag gets tossed in the trash.

Maybe this tea is a knock-off? Would somebody make a fake Tao of Tea? I’m left with more questions than answers, and a bag less tea than I thought I had.

Flavors: Paper, Wet Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Yours truly (J) was excited to try his first Twinings loose leaf tea, received as a gift from J’s work. It is described as a breakfast tea that is a blend of leaves from British Commonwealth countries to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday.

It doesn’t have any added flavors, so it’s just a black tea blend, which is exactly what the first steeping (1tsp / 8oz / 4min ) tasted and smelled like. It was pleasant but boring: Somewhat light in flavor and in tannin, and without any signature flavor or scents. I’m new to detecting subtle flavors, so that could be the reason I’d just call it ‘tea’.

Second steeping (6min) added milk until beige (1-2 tsp) to simulate the British experience. The milk drowned out a lot of the tea flavor, so next time I would use less milk or only add it to the first steeping.

The best part is the tin. It’s decorative and festive; fun while remaining pretty classy.

Flavors: Tea

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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As the first/signature tea by Kusmi, S insisted on getting a small tin of BoF. But yours truly (J) was the first to try it (2 tsp / 8 oz / 3 min).

Since it is black tea + bergamot, I was expecting an earl grey flavor. But the bergamot was quite light, resulting in potpourri and violet flavors being equally strong. So this is not close to an earl grey, and seeking out the bergamot sets the wrong expectations. Later in the cup, the taste of dehydrated berry came out. It probably wouldn’t make for a great iced tea because the flavors are relatively light.

The roof and sides of my mouth were dried out pretty quickly by its moderate astringency, while my tongue was relatively unscathed.

And when I stuck my nose into the post-steeping leaves, it smelled like… wet leaves. I’m not sure what else I was expecting. But it was definitely like a forest after a rain.

Steeping #2 (8 oz / 5 min) had less tea flavor, less bergamot, but the floral flavor was still strong. My mouth also felt like it was coated in something that I think could be interpreted as ‘soapy’.

Overall, it’s quite pleasant. Just don’t go in expecting earl grey, or a strong kick-you-in-the-face wake-me-up tea.

Flavors: Astringent, Bergamot, Berry, Flowers, Rose, Violet

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

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reviewed The Steeper by DAVIDsTEA
11 tasting notes

DavidsTea is having an end-of-summer clearance (ends tomorrow), with 60% off summer items, including The Steeper and an iced tea Perfect Pitcher. So instead of $20, the Steeper was $8 and Perfect Pitcher was $12 instead of $30. With The Steeper being so highly rated on Steepster, S couldn’t resist those prices. Can’t wait to get them home and try.

Right now S drinks a few glasses of Trader Joe’s black iced tea every day, but S is hoping to go through our big tin of Kusmi’s Anastasia quicker.

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Yesterday yours truly (J) had some Jade Cloud (also by Tea + Spice Exchange; 1 tsp in 8 oz) and I hated it so much that I didn’t go for a second steeping and just trashed the leaves. I felt a little guilty, thinking “maybe I don’t like green tea”.

Today, though… green tea makes a comeback: S + J both had 2 tsp in 4oz of Mystic Dragon over ice. We both really liked it (J more than S). Turns out we like dragon green but not jade green. S points out that the other two green teas we have are jade. Bummer.

This helps explain why we like the red dragon iced tea made at Sofra (cherries/juice + green tea + simple syrup).

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 4 OZ / 118 ML

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This is like a London Fog in a leaf. Earl Grey + milkiness + vanilla. But yours truly (J) is torn…

I love the strong cream flavor. But it also coats my mouth, almost like I drank a shot of butter and swished it around… which I don’t like. And the creme is mostly gone in the second steeping… c’mon!

The moderate bergamot and vanilla spice is really pleasant in the first steeping, but a 6-minute third steeping (2 tsp, 8 oz) resulted in slightly tannic warm black tea devoid of spice and complexity. I was disappointed by the tannins (which I dislike), as I recently had a Kusmi earl grey that could steep for hours without bringing much astringency.

The creme flavor is so sweet that it doesn’t need added sugar.

S did 1 tsp in 4oz over ice, which is also really good. An iced London Fog! (Beat that, Starbucks!)

Flavors: Bergamot, Vanilla

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Anastasia by Kusmi Tea
11 tasting notes

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J + S are yuppies in Boston. We love traveling on our stomachs.


Boston, MA

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